HC Deb 05 February 1953 vol 510 cc2045-164

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.]

4.6 p.m.

Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)

This debate is of a somewhat exceptional character, because on the action which Her Majesty's Government have taken, through the Foreign Secretary, we are in general agreement. Therefore, in a sense, we are expressing apprehensions as to the policy and the specific action of a friendly foreign Power in order that hon. Members of the House of Commons may indicate their view today.

I need hardly assure the House that there is no desire on my part or on the part of my hon. Friends to befuddle or injure Anglo-American relations. It is of the greatest importance, in my judgment, that we and the great United States of America should be firm friends, good partners and close co-operators in promoting the peace, security and well-being of the world. While it may be necessary for me, on behalf of the Opposition, to express some apprehensions and possibly some criticisms of the policy just announced by the Government of the United States, I ask the House to believe -and I ask the United States to believe—that whatever is said will be said in good will and as between friends.

One great thing about Anglo-American relations is that we can afford to speak with a combination of frankness and of friendliness to each other. If sometimes the British are frank, certainly there are times when citizens of the United States are very frank in what they think and what they say about us and the policy of one or other of our political parties. Therefore, whatever is said is not said with a view to upsetting good will and friendship between our country and the United States; but we feel it is a public duty to express our apprehensions and our fears about the announcement which the President made to Congress in his Message on the State of the Union. One of the observations that President Eisenhower made was: The policy we pursue will recognise the truth that no single country, even one so powerful as ours, can alone defend the liberty of all nations threatened by Communist aggression from without or subversion within. He added these significant words, which we adopt in this discussion today: Mutual security means mutual co-operation. I welcome that observation of the President. But surely it is the case that mutual co-operation, of which we were glad that the President spoke, means mutual consultation between active partners in the promotion and development of given policies. I must say that it appears to us that the method which has been pursued in this particular matter by the new Administration in the United States is hardly consistent with the President's declaration that mutual security means mutual co-operation.

I recall, as other hon. Members will—and, indeed, it was quoted by the Prime Minister in the debate which took place about that time—that Mr. Acheson spoke at that great meeting in the Grand Committee Room about the difficulty which arose when the United States Forces bombed the power stations on the Yalu River, and there was argument whether there had been and ought to have been consultation between the United States and our country. I think that was the incident in question, if I remember rightly. The Prime Minister quoted what Mr. Acheson said, which, I think, was characteristically frank, friendly and outspoken, and this is what he was reported to have said in the Grand Committee Room, for there was a subsequent Report. He said: If you ask me whether you had an absolute right to be consulted, I should say no, but I don't want to argue about absolute right. What I want to say, is that you are a partner of ours in this operation, and we wanted to consult you; we should have, and we recognise an error. I think that what Mr. Acheson said then might well have governed the procedure of the United States Government on this occasion, and it might have been taken into account, because it seems to say that there could have been—there was time for there to have been—consultation about this action before it was actually decided upon and announced.

Now I come to the statement of the President in his Message to Congress as to the change of policy. There were two statements in the President's Message, near to each other. One described the policy which was announced and settled by President Truman. I admit that was a unilateral decision as well, but it was made at the time of the actual outbreak of the aggression against Korea, and it had to be hurried somewhat at that time; but I admit that it was a unilateral action. He first of all described what was the policy of Mr. Truman, and then went on to say what he had decided to do.

Before coming to that, I should like to refer to another statement of President Eisenhower in which he took a comprehensive view of the elements which, in his judgment, go to make up the various active problems of Far Eastern policy at this time. In opening his reference to Korea and Formosa, the President said: In this general discussion of our foreign policy, I must make special mention of the war in Korea. This war is, for Americans, the most painful phase of Communist aggression throughout the world. It is clearly a part of the same calculated assault that the aggressor is simultaneously pressing in Indo-China and in Malaya, and of the strategic situation that manifestly embraces the Island of Formosa and the Chinese Nationalist Forces there. The working out of any military solution to the Korean war will inevitably affect all these areas. … It seems to me that there are three points which arise, or could arise, over these comprehensive references to various parts of the Far East and to the assumption that there is an inter-relation between them, and that they have to be dealt with by some form of comprehensive or common military plan, for the extract concludes: The working out of any military solution to the Korean War will inevitably affect all these areas. There is behind this, or there could be behind it, the implication of extending the field of military operations—and a very considerable extension, too, if that be the case. There is in the statement an absence of recognition that there are large and complicated political issues and consequences in this and other areas.

The reference is to the military solution. I would say to the House—and I think that hon. Members will generally agree—that mere military decisions without political solutions that take account of the social and economic problems in themselves solve nothing, and may, indeed, be the foundation and the beginning of further trouble.

It is this emphasis—and it may have been accidental; let us hope that it was —on the military aspect, without mention of the political, social and economic aspects, that gives one some apprehension. Nor is there any recognition of what we conceive to be the fact—and I am afraid that we cannot expect it from the United States at this time; it may well come at some future time—that the effective Government of China—I am talking about the Government in office, which is the effective Government of China—cannot permanently be unrecognised by nations in the world and cannot permanently be kept outside the United Nations. Nor can it well be the case that the Government of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek can permanently be inside the United Nations unless the situation were to change, which does not seem to be likely.

Now I come to the two aspects of Formosa policy which were mentioned in the President's Message, namely, the policy that President Truman followed and the policy announced by President Eisenhower. In describing President Truman's policy, the President said: In June, 1950, following the aggressive attack on the Republic of Korea, the United States 7th Fleet was instructed both to prevent attack upon Formosa and also to ensure that Formosa should not be used as a base of operations against the Chinese Communist mainland. … That is to say, the policy of President Truman was that the United States Fleet would prevent aggressive attack by either side to the best of its ability, whether by Communist China on the one hand or by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek on the other, as between Formosa and the Chinese mainland.

Then President Eisenhower announced his own decision, after some argument for the reasons for it. He said: I am, therefore, issuing instructions that the 7th Fleet no longer be employed to shield Communist China. Permit me to make crystal clear this order implies no aggressive intent on our part. But we certainly have no obligation to protect a nation fighting us in Korea. I admit straight away that the late Labour Government had its doubts as to the wisdom of President Truman's policy in sending the Seventh Fleet to Formosa to maintain some sort of neutrality between the island and the mainland. It was done at the time of the outbreak of the aggression in Korea and was evidently associated in the President's mind with it. Quite frankly, we were not happy about it, though we at once, with the support of the then Opposition, associated ourselves with the courageous United States and United Nations resistance to aggression against South Korea.

It was with that aggression that we were concerned, and we see no reason to regret the course that we followed on that occasion, and that was why the Royal Navy did not join with the United States Navy in the United States naval action for the protection of the waters of Formosa against aggression across them either by Communist China or by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

I must say that as time went on, and the policy of the United States was established, there was much to be said for President Truman's action because it prevented, or at any rate very much limited, the possibility of trouble between the mainland and Formosa. Therefore, it turned out to be a contribution to the maintenance of the people of the world in that part and to the prevention of an extension of hostilities.

It can be said of the policy of President Truman that it was a two-way one. It was a two-way neutralisation. Just as he sought to prevent any attack on the island of Formosa by the Communist forces from the mainland of China, he no less sought to prevent attack on the Chinese mainland by the forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

But now a vital change in policy has been announced by the new President of the United States. He is a man for whom all of us who know him—I knew him during the war and have met him since—have the highest personal regard, and we wish him every success in his duties at the head of that great nation. But the announcement that he has made makes an enormous difference in American policy in respect of Formosa, for now presumably, although it is not explicitly stated, it is near enough explicitly stated, that it is a one-way neutralisation, only with what appears to be, as far as I can see—I do not want to use words which are unjust or unfair or an exaggeration—almost an incitement to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to attack the mainland in strength, with an implied undertaking, and, in fact, guarantee—it is pretty specific—that the American Navy will not interfere if such an attack is made.

It has to be remembered that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's forces in Formosa have received great military assistance in material and in other ways from the United States Government, so that, presumably, whatever their fighting qualities may be—that we do not know —their military equipment must be substantially greater now than it was at the time of the declaration of President Truman's policy.

Therefore, there can be an attack upon the mainland in strength as compared with occasional small raids, and that attack would be by forces which have been armed by the United States. How far the forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek will succeed in such an attack is a very speculative matter, and history does not justify us in the belief, or, at any rate, the firm belief, that it will be successful. But one never knows in these matters, and how far he will succeed is a matter which is open to doubt.

Nevertheless, the consequences may be considerable. First of all, it creates a risk of spreading the war. Happily, it has been common policy between the late Government and this Government, to the best of our knowledge, that we have been against spreading the war in the Far East or anywhere else and we have been active participants in steps to prevent war and to protect the peace of the world. There is a risk in the new policy of spreading the war.

Another important point arises in connection with this matter. Supposing Chiang Kai-shek gets into difficulties. He may well get into difficulties. After all, he has been in difficulties before. I am not making that observation in any satirical sense, but it is a fact, and if he is stronger in the miltary sense now, it is probably true that the Communist forces in China are stronger in the military sense as well.

Supposing Chiang Kai-shek is defeated. Supposing some of his troops are surrounded. Suppose there is naval action by Communist China against his troops in the course of transit and he is in trouble. What is the United States to do then? Will it let him be defeated and let things take their course, or will the United States then actively participate, as the United States, directly in warlike activities against the mainland of China or against the Chinese naval forces in the sea between Formosa and the mainland of China?

That is a possible situation, and American public opinion is liable to become somewhat emotional about this matter. I do not believe that the United States is deep with affection for the personality and ability of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, but I believe that the United States has a profound emotional hatred of Communism as such, and it does sometimes lead them into courses which are, perhaps, a little exaggerated. Goodness knows, I have no liking for Communism or the policy of Communist organisations; nevertheless, it is desirable to retain one's judgment when one is considering what to do about specific things. It is a real risk that there might be major trouble between Communist mainland China and the forces of the United States.

The Government of the United States ought not to be under any illusion as to British public opinion about that situation. If it arises, we should deplore it. We should not feel that we could associate ourselves with it. We should think that it had arisen from a mistaken policy on the part of the new President and his Administration, and we should certainly take the view that it would be wrong for British forces to be involved in those operations if they should occur.

There is another possibility. Supposing the forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek conduct a blockade against the Chinese mainland and interfere with British merchant shipping peacefully going about its business. I am not sure that that has not already happened once or twice. Supposing it increases. Supposing it becomes systematic. After all, if one is going in for something in the nature of a war between Formosa and the mainland of China, a blockade is a not unexpected thing to happen, in the course of those military and naval operations.

I should like the Foreign Secretary to tell us what, in those circumstances, Her Majesty's Government will do? What will the Royal Navy do? I submit that we cannot tolerate Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek interfering with peaceful British shipping, and that that shipping would be entitled to the active protection of the Royal Navy. I should be grateful if the Foreign Secretary would be so good as to tell us what would be the line and attitude of the Government if that possibility, which is a real possibility, should eventuate?

So we see that the decision of President Eisenhower, whatever the motives may have been, is a decision which is full of unpleasant possibilities. Indeed, it contains great and considerable dangers, and we must say that we feel that a grave mistake has been committed.

I now wish to return to questions which we have been putting to the Prime Minister about his recent visit to the United States. I say this with all sincerity, and I hope as a good Parliamentarian. I have always regarded the Prime Minister himself as being a very good Parliamentarian. He has been here longer than I have; he has had his interruptions and I have had mine, too, but when the Prime Minister of our country pays what must be regarded as an official visit to the then President of the United States and President-designate—I raise no point about who paid and that sort of thing, it does not matter who paid; he went as Prime Minister and he went officially in that capacity, and if his expenses were paid he was perfectly entitled that they should be paid; I am raising nothing about that—he should, I respectfully submit, present a report to the British House of Commons.

We had something of the same difficulty on the occasion of the visit which the right hon. Gentleman paid immediately after he became Prime Minister. We had to press him hard to get a statement, which he was willing to give but wanted to wait until the debate had opened so that we should know as little as possible before the debate. I understand the tactical significance of that, but it is surely an elementary Parliamentary decency, and if I may say it, a constitutional propriety, that if the right hon. Gentleman, holding the great, high and unique office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom goes to the United States in his capacity of Prime Minister he should give the House a report.

There was no secret about it, it was well known that he would be going and that he had gone. It is true that he was accompanied by only a very limited staff. So far as I know he had no Foreign Office advisers, though the Ambassador may have given him some assistance. He went in his capacity as Prime Minister, however, and he conducted conversations. We really cannot believe that they merely talked about the de-rationing of sweets, and so on; they must have talked about other important things. I should be surprised if they did not talk about this matter.

He ought to have given the House a report even if it had had to be what we might have described as a somewhat thin report, observing the Parliamentary and constitutional decencies which any Prime Minister or any Minister ought to be careful to do. I beg the right hon. Gentleman not to persist in this rather unpleasant attitude of "I have been, I have come back, and that for the House of Commons: I refuse to tell you anything about it." That is not the right hon. Gentleman at his best; that is the right hon. Gentleman at his worst. I beg him now to evolve into the right hon. Gentleman at his best.

I am making no allegations. I am asking questions as to whether any of these things happened, and, if so, whether, somewhere in the course of the debate, the right hon. Gentleman would be so good as to inform the House of Commons whose servant he is as well as being the holder of a great position of leadership in the House. Naturally, we very much want to hear the Foreign Secretary also, and we shall. But could I ask the Prime Minister, first, whether he discussed the question of Formosa or related matters with President-elect Eisenhower and/or with Secretary of State-elect Dulles?

Secondly, did he ask, if he had reason to believe that they were contemplating some such policy, that there would be effective consultation with Her Majesty's Government before such an announcement was made, or before such a decision was finally reached? Thirdly, if he did know that the Americans were contemplating such action, did he at once warn the Foreign Office from the other side through the Embassy, so that the diplomatic channel could get to work or prepare for it?

There is an allegation in the "Daily Herald" reporting Reuter from Washington, that these things were known and that the Prime Minister did not inform the Foreign Office until he came back or until he was very nearly coming back. This article is by Mr. W. N. Ewer, who is a reputable diplomatic correspondent, and he is writing on the basis of a report by Reuter from Washington. I am not saying that that is necessarily true, but I think it is desirable that the Prime Minister should be good enough to clear up these points in the course of our discussion today.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is to make a statement upon the questions which are before us today, and naturally my part in them, if any, will have to be mentioned by him. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will await my right hon. Friend's reply.

Mr. Morrison

I must await the right hon. Gentleman's reply, and I shall wait with the pleasurable anticipation for an adequate answer to these questions. We shall all be glad to hear the Foreign Secretary, but I still say, with every respect, but with every firmness, that that does not absolve the Prime Minister from the obligation which he had, and I think still has, to report to the House of Commons on his visit. I still ask him to be the good Parliamentarian which we believe he is at heart.

In all these circumstances, and in view of all the possibilities, we think that the United Kingdom Government should have been consulted before the American action was announced and before it was finally concluded. Indeed, we think there is a case, and there was a case—[Interruption.] I do not want to interrupt the Prime Minister, as he sometimes says to us. I should not like to interrupt him. Let us all hear. Not only was there a case for consulting the United Kingdom, because we are close friends of the United States of America, and we have played a leading part—I agree, very much secondary to that of the United States—but it could be argued that there was a case for consulting the nations actively associated with the United Nations military operations.

After all, there was no pressing urgency about this action. There was no pressing urgency about the announcement of it except that the President had to send a message to Congress, and I suppose that there were repercussions from the United States election, when commitments were perhaps entered into that it would have been better not to have entered into; but that is their business. It was not essential, however, that it should be announced or decided at that point, and we think there could have been and should have been consultation.

The United Kingdom is not, after all, only the United Kingdom. We are part of a great Commonwealth, a Commonwealth which includes Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, apart from our important Colonial Territories. [HON. MEMBERS: "Canada."] Geographically, Canada is different. I was thinking in terms of geography, but Canada herself is a participant in the Korean operations.

All these countries are very much concerned with Far Eastern policy. India and other Asian countries are much concerned with foreign policy in the Far East, because they are Asian countries and it may well be that they will be able to play a particularly valuable part in erecting a bridge of friendship between the Eastern and the Western world countries. We understand American feelings, for they are suffering much anxiety. They have had very heavy casualties of brave young men and we must take that into account. Their loss is far greater than ours.

The Prime Minister

And vast expenditure.

Mr. Morrison

And, as the right hon. Gentleman says, vast expenditure.

We also have made our contribution within our means in men, material and money. One must understand the American feeling about this business. It is a bad experience to go through, and the sooner it is over the better. Nor have we any sympathy with Communist aggression. I still think that the late Ernest Bevin was right when he recognised Communist China. I still think I was right when Mr. Malik asked for truce talks, and we urged the United States to agree

I must say, however, that the Chinese have not altogether played the game diplomatically in return. While we have given full recognition to them, one can hardly claim that they have given British diplomatic representatives full recognition. Also, the truce talks have been needlessly drawn out, during which time the Chinese have strengthened their military position. I thought the last episode was disappointing when India, which is reasonable and which has shown a wish to be helpful and friendly to the Chinese Government in its difficulties, put forward the latest proposal, which I was delighted to see the Foreign Secretary support even though it was rejected. None of us should, therefore, assume that no fault rests upon the Chinese Government, because some fault does.

Nevertheless, the continuance of mere persistent antagonism without reflection and thought will not help the situation. It is more likely to drive China more firmly ino the arms of the Soviet Union and to the policies of the Cominform. We must oppose ill-thought out policies likely to spread the war and to build up trouble for all of us in the Far East.

We of the Opposition are not mere appeasers. Indeed, we have been active in exposing and condemning Communist policy at home and abroad. But mere bad temper and loose policies will not end the war. British and European public opinion will not accept that trend of policy; indeed, the repercussions of British and European public opinion to the President's action are extensively critical. There is a real danger of the United States being somewhat isolated in this connection in the world, which is not good for the United States.

We must think constructively about final settlements in this vast area of the world with its enormous population, its great economic problems, its poverty and its complicated questions of all sorts. Therefore, it is desirable for our own country, for the United States and for others that, though this struggle must go through and the rule of law must be protected and confirmed, nevertheless, we must, at the same time, think constructively and specifically about the future of this vast, important part of the world.

I trust that I have said nothing which in any way will embitter Anglo-American relations or make them less cordial, but I and my right hon. and hon. Friends think it right that we should be clear and frank in indicating our dissent. We trust that the Foreign Secretary will stick to the line that we were happy to hear he announced the other day, and exercise his influence in favour not only of the triumph of the United Nations Forces but of a balanced outlook with the discouragement of policies which are likely to add to rather than diminish our troubles.

4.46 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)

In the earlier part of his speech when he was giving us an account of how the neutralisation policy came into being in the Formosan Straits—and I thought it a very fair account of how that happened—and contrasted that with the present time and with the President's action, I thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) was clearly trying to be scrupulously fair in his parallel, but the very way he was doing it showed a complete difference of outlook in facing this problem as between the American people and a considerable section of opinion here.

The right hon. Gentleman never referred to the real fundamental difference in the position today and the position as it was when the Straits' policy of neutralisation was put into force originally. That fundamental difference is very much in the minds of every American sailor and every American mother. The fact is that since that policy was put into force China has become an aggressor in North Korea. It is that which has changed the whole position. What is in the minds of the American people is that when it was introduced the neutralisation policy was right because China and the Chinese People's Republic were not concerned in the Korean war, and Formosa, which is Chiang Kai-shek's territory, and the mainland, which is the Chinese People's Republic, were entirely separate—the right hon. Gentleman will no doubt follow that argument—and it was the belief of the American people that they should be kept separate.

But the position in their eyes—and they have a tremendous case for it—was completely transformed once the Chinese People's Republic became an aggressor in North Korea. As the right hon. Gentleman will no doubt remember, the Chinese People's Republic were condemned as such by the United Nations during the life of the late Government and on the vote and speeches of the late Government. I think they were perfectly right. It is that which dominates American thought. It seems to them that this arrangement—and hon. Members who follow affairs in the United States know how much this was canvassed for a long time recently—about the Seventh Fleet acting as a screen was giving a protection to the Chinese People's Republic which is at this particular moment an aggressor in Korea. The force of that argument is something which I do not think we can resist whatever other thoughts we may have.

Let me say a word or two by way of answer to some of the questions which the right hon. Gentleman has just put. The immediate occasion for this debate, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, is the statement to Congress by President Eisenhower on the State of the Union, during which he announced that new instructions have been given or are to be given to the American Seventh Fleet operating off Formosa.

Since the statement which I made to the House two days ago I have been able to discuss this and other matters with the United States Secretary of State Mr. Dulles here in London. I therefore welcome the opportunity of the debate which the right hon. Gentleman has initiated to make some observations on the situation as I see it.

First of all, I think it important not to read into the President's statement—I am not suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman did, and I do not think he did —anything more than it actually said. President Eisenhower has made it clear that the Seventh Fleet will no longer be employed to shelter Communist China. The President went on to use these words: This order implies no aggressive intent on our part. Those were his words. I would add to that that Her Majesty's Government are convinced that it clearly states the American position. Indeed, as a result of the close and cordial relations established by our first discussions we feel quite confident that we shall develop with the new Administration the type of collaboration which will make it impossible for any step which could have far reaching international reactions to be taken without our having an opportunity to express our views beforehand. I say that—the House will understand that I say this entirely on my responsibility—because as was made plain before Mr. Dulles and Mr. Stassen left on their journey, no commitments would be entered into by them while on this journey. Anybody who knows the United States knows that many alternative courses were canvassed during the election campaign and before, about the future conduct of the Korean war.

There were canvassed the possibility of a blockade of the Chinese coast, the use of Nationalist troops on the mainland of China and the extension of bombing beyond the Yalu. Those have all been argued over in public debate in the United States. Therefore we, like everybody else, knew that there might be some change of policy, but it was not until 30th January that we knew that an immediate decision of any of these matters was going to be taken and announced. As soon as we learned this, as I have already told the House—there is nothing new in what I am saying now—we made our views known at once officially in the United States.

This question of the neutralisation of the Formosan Straits is not a new one, and it is not new for the Foreign Office either. It was discussed during the life of the late Administration. When I spoke to the House two days ago I gave hon. Members an account of the official representations we had made on this neutralisation policy, both to the late Administration and to the present one. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South has made inquiries about the visit of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the United States. We had received an unofficial indication that the new Administration might at some time take action such as an alteration in the orders to the Seventh Fleet.

As a result of this, in the notes which I gave to my right hon. Friend before he went to the United States this aspect was put before him. We both thought that this might be useful, owing to the fortunate fact that these private talks were going to take place. There was complete agreement between us. Indeed, in the circumstances, and in view of the fact that the new people were not Ministers, I do not see what better, or indeed what other, channel was open to us in any event.

The results of my right hon. Friend's conversations were reported to us, to the Foreign Office, to me. They were all private and confidential, with people who then had no official position so that I cannot think that the House will wish me to give an account of them. [Interruption.] It would be quite impossible—I ask hon. Gentlemen to look at this matter again—for us to make public what were private discussions with people who had not yet assumed office. [Interruption.]

Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)

Why not?

Mr. Eden

I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will curb his impatience sufficiently to allow himself to apply his mind to this matter. Having taken office and being in possession of documents and advisers that were not there before, it is at least reasonable and possibly that some modification of their views may take place.

Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might elucidate that important point, on which the House requires further clarification. Does he mean that these people were unofficial at that time, and subsequently became official?

Mr. Eden

That is what I said. My right hon. Friend's conversations were with people who had not yet assumed office, and therefore nobody, even if they had any detailed questions, could be sure that they would not, in detail or in substance, be modified when they took office. I hope nobody is going to say—

Mr. Turner-Samuels


Hon. Members

Sit down

Mr. Eden

Let me finish my sentence. I think all of us who have experience of public life would agree that it sometimes happens that Ministers in office take slightly different views on topics from the views they have taken before they assumed office.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

The right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to say what the other side said to the Prime Minister. If the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to say what these still immature officials said to the Prime Minister, is he prepared to say what reaction the Prime Minister had to what they said?

Mr. Eden

I did ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to apply his mind to what I was saying. He must really try to do that, and he could then answer his own question. He will have observed that I said that the Prime Minister and I had been in complete agreement, and without straining his memory the hon. and learned Gentleman will perhaps recall what I said two days ago in this House. I do not think that a feat of imagination ought to be beyond his endeavour, and he would be completely satisfied with the answer then.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

That is no answer, and the right hon. Gentleman knows that.

Mr. Eden

All this does not affect the main issue, that when the Government, the new Administration, told us what they proposed to do, there and then we made the reply which the right hon. Gentleman has rightly quoted this afternoon. We have done it, we have stated our position, as we are bound to do to friends in expressing our views. Now that we have done it I hope we can proceed, especially in the light of the earlier part of my remarks, on a constructive and friendly basis, to try to reach agreement on all these questions with the new Administration of the United States. That is what we have to do if we are to make our real contribution, and that is what we have begun to do in the last few days.

I want to say something else about the American attitude to this question of the United States Seventh Fleet. It is not a sudden, new issue to them, as it has become to the British people. It seems to them that their Fleet has been ensuring to the Communists that they will have no anxiety in any part of their country while they are carrying out their actual aggression in Korea. Yet these same Communists are daily inflicting loss of life on American troops and on those of their allies, including ours. It seems to them quixotic that their navy should be used in this way.

However, the decision taken by the President of the United States does not mean that grave events will necessarily follow. We ought not to exaggerate its significance, but we should try to understand how the Americans feel. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Americans are emotional. I wonder whether that applies to them more than to us? [An HON. MEMBER: "It does."] The hon. Gentleman says it does. There have been one and a quarter million Americans through the Korean conflict at one time or another. That is a lot of people. There have been casualties on a scale which is pretty heavy—total casualties of 128,000. That must have affected a great many American homes.

I must say frankly that when I consider the American attitude in this context I think their restraint has been quite remarkable. I say that to the hon. Member. Just imagine how he would feel if he were a combatant in that area now. The enemy can take off from aerodromes just over the border, come up and fight our aircraft, and the Americans do not pursue those aircraft back to the landing grounds because they are over the border in Manchurian territory. Is that not a pretty remarkable thing? For my part I think it is most remarkable. I think hon. Gentlemen should try to view matters a little from that point of view.

Then again we have said we think it would be a mistake to have a policy of blockade, but it is not difficult to think how the Americans view that with their overwhelming naval power and the advantages which they think it might give them. I say these things not because I am defending or justifying the policy—

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Eden

I am doing nothing of the kind, and the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that I am not. I think we have to make an effort of imagination to see how these people feel, and that is what I have been trying to put before the House this afternoon.

We know quite well what is the broad strategy which the Communists are trying to impose on the West in this part of the world. Here again the Americans understand this just as well as we do, perhaps better. It is an attempt to pin down our forces there as far as possible, to scatter our effort and thus, it may be, to weaken our strength in the essential theatre which is Europe. I am sure that the United States Government understand that well.

The right hon. Gentleman asked me one specific question: what would happen if any of the ships of Chiang Kai-shek—I know he has some—sought to interfere with British shipping. There has already been one such incident to which we have reacted in the way the House knows. Compensation is being paid, or some arrangements are being made about it, and apologies are being made. I can tell the House at once that Her Majesty's ships on their lawful occasions will always be protected. That is the duty and policy of any Government of this country and that is what we should do if our ships were interfered with—they would be protected as that ship was, in fact, protected.

Now I want to make a reference to the reports of the important statement which the Chinese Prime Minister made officially in Peking yesterday. We shall want to study what he said, but the House will remember that on many occasions we have made it clear in public statements that we are ready to resume the armistice negotiations at Panmunjom as soon as the other side are prepared to accept the proposals put forward by the United Nations under the Indian suggestion to which the right hon. Gentleman referred or to submit genuine and constructive proposals of their own.

All the offers which we have made to resolve this deadlock of the prisoners of war—all of them—still remain open and they can be taken up at any time. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the last Indian offer is the most important of them all. I must say, however, that at first sight I thought the statement of Mr. Chou En-lai yesterday appears to be merely a reiteration of the position of the Chinese Government as set out by Chinese and Soviet spokesmen during our meeting of the General Assembly last November when we discussed the Indian resolution. It does not appear to contribute anything either new or constructive towards a solution of our problem.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

What is wrong with it?

Mr. Eden

The main thing wrong with it is that it still postulates what the United Nations overwhelmingly refuse to accept, that all prisoners must be repatriated, regardless of whether they would forcibly resist or whether they would not.

Mr. Silverman

Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt for a moment? Surely that is not being quite fair to the proposal? The right hon. Gentleman knows already that I think the Indian proposal should have been accepted, but nevertheless it is not quite true, is it, to say that the alternative proposal was an insistence on the return of prisoners by force? Was not the alternative proposal that there should be a cease fire now and that all the outstanding questions, of which the prisoners of war question is one, should then be determined by the Armistice Commission?

Mr. Eden

I am just coming to that very point.

Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr Tydvil)

That is the point.

Mr. Eden

It has for some time been conceivably possible that we could reach an armistice whilst leaving our prisoners of war in Communist hands. That is completely unacceptable to us. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] For the reasons which have been stated repeatedly at the United Nations and elsewhere, because we are not prepared that our prisoners should be pawns in the hands of the Communists. That is a risk we would not contemplate for one instant, nor would any other of the United Nations who have their troops there now. The hon. Gentleman can very well work out for himself the reason he is anxious to discover.

We maintain that if an Armistice is sincerely wanted at any time those Indian proposals provide the answer. If, for any reason, the Indian proposals are not liked, there are the proposals which we ourselves worked out and put up at Panmunjom early in the autumn. Any of those, or variants of those arrangements, can be made but they must include the return of our prisoners at the time the armistice is concluded.

Now I will turn for a moment to one or two other matters which I want briefly to mention. The right hon. Gentleman said something about the extent of our problem in the Far East and he was right. He said it, criticising something the President had said, but not criticising it in the sense that we have a broad problem in the Pacific and in South-East Asia which as a whole is inter-related. Whether it be in Indo-China, in Malaya, in Korea or elsewhere, there are these Asian peoples who have been trying to gain an independent national life, struggling to establish forms of society which suit themselves. In this they have been supported by the older democracies of the West, which, in many cases, have been associated closely with developments in Asia in the past.

Behind them, in greater immediate security, are the great nations of the Indian sub-continent, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, all newly launched on their national life. All the conditions exist there for improved life, greater prosperity and freedom. A great deal has been done by the West, through the Colombo Plan and other endeavours, to make their progress possible. Modern science could combine with vast space and unlimited manpower to create new prosperity and happiness for millions.

However, as the House knows, these hopes are not to be fulfilled without bitter struggle and danger because the ambitions of the Communist Empire fall like a shadow across these lands. Wherever we see new States, uncertain of themselves, the same thing happens, the same story unfolds. It was so nearer home in Greece, when that country was still weak from the ravages of war. Now we see it in Malaya, in Indo-China, in Burma and, in its most brutal form, in Korea.

What are the motives for this spoiling policy, this wrecking and ruining of peaceful people? I do not believe we can say that the Communist rulers are concerned simply with acquiring and administering for themselves new territories and people. Their concern is rather with world ambition. These nations are just pawns in the game, expendible elements in the Communist struggle, and the over-all plan is to weaken and destroy the free world. That is the situation that we have to meet. The right hon. Gentleman said, and rightly, that the new Chinese Government did not respond to the efforts which were being made to maintain relations. By their action elsewhere, especially in Korea, they have shown the true nature of their intentions.

It is necessary that the House should remember that what we are dealing with in Korea is an act of aggression on the United Nations collectively. It is not, as I have sometimes seen it stated in speeches, because American soldiers are being killed, that we cannot therefore now do anything about changing the membership in the United Nations of the Chinese —that is not the point. The point is that the United Nations is being attacked, and while they are being attacked there can be no question of any change in representation at the United Nations.

Indo-China is the strategic key to South-East Asia. Its security must be a matter of vital concern to the whole free world. This was clearly recognised by the North Atlantic Council in the resolution which it adopted in Paris on 17th December last.

I should like to conclude by saying a few words about the conversations we had yesterday in London and about our plans in that connection. The House will understand that I cannot go into details of yesterday's discussions far beyond the communiqué, but I can say this. I had a strong impression during our discussion, which covered a very wide field of world affairs, that there is a sincere determination on both sides to reach and to maintain a really close understanding.

I believe that our American friends understand as well as we do how indispensable this is if any of the affairs of the free world are to prosper. I hope that we have now established relations of confidence with the new Administration. Certainly, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I, when we go to Washington, as we shall be doing early in March, to discuss the results of the Commonwealth Conference in a preliminary fashion, as I assured the right hon. Gentleman the other night, will do all that lies in our power to promote that.

A year ago I ventured to say to the House that I was convinced that the American people and Government were as anxious as we were to secure an armistice in Korea. At the time I was a good deal criticised for having said that, but I think events have shown that that was a true judgment, and that by everything they have done in their support of the Panmunjom negotiations, their acceptance of the Indian resolution and everything else, the Americans have shown that that is their sincere desire. I want to record now the conviction, which I hope the House will be able to look at with equal confidence next year, that the new Administration understands, as we do, that we have to work together for world peace, because if we do not do so there is no possibility of prosperity, of good will or of happiness, for the people anywhere on this earth's surface.

Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, will he deal with one point? He has explained very fully what is likely to happen if the American fleet withholds its protection from the Chinese coast. Could he say anything about what would happen if it works the other way and the Communists on the mainland invade Formosa? What then would be the attitude of the American fleet?

Mr. Eden

If the Chinese Communists try to invade Formosa?

Mr. Hynd


Mr. Eden

As the hon. Member will have seen from the declaration by President Eisenhower, what the President has done is to remove one part of the deterrent action, and only one part.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

Anyone listening to the Foreign Secretary's speech this afternoon must have found it very difficult to appreciate that the reason why this debate has been called, and called specially and urgently, by the Opposition, and why it has been necessary for the Government to alter the business for today for the purpose of this debate, is because the Opposition, and presumably, therefore, the Government also, and certainly the people in this country and beyond the confines of this country, are gravely perturbed about the implications of the latest American announcements concerning the protection of Formosa.

What the Foreign Secretary has spoken about this afternoon at great length, and, in places, with great feeling, is the general situation in the Far East, which is no more urgent today except for this one incident than it has been for some time: of the great sacrifices that have been made by America, and of the remarkable tolerance and patience shown by both American Administrations. But the right hon. Gentleman said very little at all about the reasons why this debate has been called. What is perturbing me—and, I have no doubt, is perturbing the majority of my hon. and right hon. Friends—from the speech of the Foreign Secretary is his obvious insistence that he knows nothing more about this matter than we have read in the newspapers. When asked to interpret the meaning of what President Eisenhower had said and to explain what is likely to happen as a result of that announcement, the right hon. Gentleman has on every occasion simply referred to Press announcements. That is an extremely grave situation from our point of view, particularly when the Foreign Secretary has now admitted that the situation which has now been created was, in fact, discussed by the Prime Minister and by President Eisenhower and some of his present advisers during the Prime Minister's recent visit to Washington.

If in fact this matter was discussed by the Prime Minister with those American officials, presumably the Prime Minister, at least, knows the intentions of the Americans and what lies behind the pronouncement; and as the Prime Minister, as we have been told, has conveyed those discussions to the Foreign Secretary, presumably, therefore, the Foreign Secretary knows something more than what has appeared in the Press statements. There-force, it is very little use for the right lion. Gentleman simply to refer us to these Press statements and to read them and say that they mean nothing more than they say.

What is even more serious is the argument used by the Foreign Secretary, which puts an altogether new complexion upon this situation, concerning the Prime Minister's discussions in Washington. Until this afternoon, I and most people were left with the impression—rightly or wrongly, we thought at the time that this was the only interpretation to put upon the Prime Minister's strained silence about his conversations in Washington—that he had discussed the situation with President Eisenhower and that he had agreed with President Eisenhower that this action should be taken; and that he was simply refusing to tell the House that he had not told the Foreign Secretary, and that the Foreign Secretary, in making his protest, was doing so as a protest against some agreement that had been made verbally and privately between the Prime Minister and President Eisenhower. The only alternative conclusion that we could reach was that the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Office, knowing that the Prime Minister had not agreed with President Eisenhower, were protesting not only against the President's action, but against the agreement between him and the Prime Minister.

But now the picture has changed. The Foreign Secretary has told us the situation today. He has pointed out that this question was, in fact, discussed between the Prime Minister and the Presidentelect and with some of those who are now high officials in the State Department when the Prime Minister was in America. The Foreign Secretary said in reply to an interjection that the Prime Minister is, and has been, in agreement with the attitude which the Foreign Secretary himself has taken.

The attitude taken by the Foreign Secretary has been an attitude of protest, however polite or modified, against this unilateral action by America without consultation with us. I do not think the Foreign Secretary would object to that. But if the Prime Minister is in agreement with the objection that has been taken by the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Office to this unilateral action by Mr. Eisenhower, and since Mr. Eisenhower discussed it with the Prime Minister, there is again only one conclusion to be drawn, which is that the Prime Minister, being in agreement with the Foreign Secretary's attitude, protested to Mr. Eisenhower against this, action being taken unilaterally without full official consultation with us, and against the implications of the action.

If he did so, we are again driven to the conclusion that since, in spite of the Prime Minister's protest, Mr. Eisenhower has, nevertheless, pursued this action, Mr. Eisenhower has completely ignored the representations made by the Prime Minister, and has, in effect, refused to consult with us before taking such action. That is a very difficult attitude to reconcile with President Eisenhower's own statement about mutual security depending upon mutual consultation. If that is the pass to which Anglo-American relations have come in regard to the United Nations' action in the Far East, the implications are even more serious than they appeared to be in the first instance. If that is the case, the Foreign Secretary's speech this afternoon is not only inade- quate but is a complete evasion of the responsibilities of the British Government in the face of such a situation.

I know that most of my colleagues, if not all, would endorse everything the Foreign Secretary said about understanding the feelings of the American people. I have never at any time questioned the tremendous patience and tolerance shown by the American Administration in carrying on the United Nations' action, for which they are primarily responsible, in Korea in face of the provocations to which they have been subjected. I was not one of those who felt that we ought to protest too loudly about the bombing of the Yalu Power Station, although I did feel that because of the grave implications of that action, as understood broadly in this country, we might have been consulted before the action was taken. Nevertheless, I was, and still am, prepared to concede that the general commanding in the field, faced with a situation of that kind, must on some occasions be entitled to take action of that kind so long as it is within the frontiers being contested.

I fully understand the feelings of the American people about the great sacrifices they have had to make. I fully understand how they must resent being bombarded by Chinese planes which can fly back over the frontier and more or less thumb their noses at the Americans and say, "You must not touch us because we are over the line." I can understand all that, and we must make great allowance for it. But that is nothing whatever to do with why, when a new action is being taken in this area, which is bound immediately to affect the whole tenor of the war and the whole of the fortunes of all the countries involved in that war, that action should not be discussed fully between the American authorities and their partners in the action.

I turn now to the question of Formosa. As I understand it, Formosa is an island whose fate has not yet been decided, but which is to be decided in due course by the United Nations. Presumably, therefore, until that time it should receive some protection from the United Nations, or such protection as they consider necessary. Since it is within an area threatened by hostilities which are going on, presumably there is some justification for protection being given to the island. When the Americans took their first action in bringing in their Fleet to protect the Straits, I thought, and said at the time, that it was a mistake in tactics, because however necessary it may have been, in view of the situation at the time, to protect Formosan waters and to protect the island, it was a matter which involved all the parties to the action in Korea and might at least have been discussed with those parties before the action was taken.

Now, the Americans have decided, presumably, to withdraw their protection from one side of the Straits but not from the other, and that not only changes the whole diplomatic situation of Formosa itself in relation to its responsibilities to the United Nations and the United Nations' responsibilities to Formosa, but it represents a unilateral American action without consultation with their allies, which places Formosa itself in the position of being a disputed area which can now be brought into direct combat as part of the general hostilities in that area.

As we understand the Foreign Secretary, General Eisenhower's intention is that their Fleet shall no longer protect the mainland against General Chiang Kai-shek but shall continue to protect Formosa and General Chiang Kai-shek against attacks from the mainland. That is a one-sided action by one Member of the United Nations which may involve a territory which should be under the protection of the whole of the United Nations, and which is likely, therefore, to endanger the relationship between all the Members of the United Nations involved in the action in that area.

I do not want to go into the feelings aroused in India, throughout Asia, and also presumably in the Middle East—indeed, throughout the whole of the civilised world—as a result of this action. The gravamen of the matter is that our Government, although one of the major partners in this United Nation's action with the United States in Korea, are left to rely entirely upon statements in the Press, and apparently have no direct information about the implications of the action.

The representations which we understand were made by the Prime Minister against this action being taken unilaterally by the Americans have been completely ignored by General Eisenhower, so that the whole of the relations between our two countries, and between all those who are involved in the Korean action, have unfortunately been placed, I will not say in jeopardy, but in rather a difficult position. In saying that I am not for a moment suggesting that we should alter our attitude towards the action that has taken place in Korea.

There are certain people in this and other countries, and certain influences, which are trying to suggest that the Americans are not seeking to pursue an action of collective security against an aggressor in Korea, but are involved in some kind of counter-revolutionary war in which Korea is only a part. I reject that absolutely, and I know that in doing so I speak for the overwhelming majority of my colleagues on these benches.

I resent that kind of implication, because if that were the case, and if those who make that kind of accusation believed it, they ought to be advising us to withdraw our troops from Korea altogether, because if that is what the Americans are seeking to do we should have no part in it. But I have yet to hear anyone of any responsibility suggesting that we should take the action which would be consequent upon accepting that interpretation of the situation.

At the moment we are left in a quandary. The Americans plead, rightly I think, that they are concerned entirely with collective security in this action. If that is the case, they must accept its implications, and they must consult their allies on these matters. It is little use pleading that the protection of the Formosan Straits was not a United Nations' action, that it was taken on the unilateral responsibility of America, who has her Fleet in that area, and therefore felt she ought to take a personal responsibility for protecting these waters, and therefore there is no obligation on her to consult with her allies in Korea about it.

That is a very thin argument, because it is quite clear from the debate—although it has only just begun—it is quite clear from the leading articles and comments in the Press, not only of this country but of countries all over the world; it is quite clear from the reaction we have seen on the part of the leading statesmen in India and other parts of Asia, that this is not an area which is subject to unilateral action. The withdrawal of the 7th Fleet from the Formosan Straits cannot be separated from the situation arising in Korea, and within that area generally.

It is also clear that President Eisenhower knows very well that his action in the Formosan Straits has a direct influence on the course of events in Korea. Therefore, it is no argument at all to suggest that America, while engaged in a United Nations collective action in Korea, is entitled at the same time to pursue a parallel, unilateral action of her own in the same area which will have such serious effects upon the general action.

Mr. Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Heeley)

If the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) follows out his argument, does it not mean, if it is a United Nations responsibility and he wishes to keep a fleet between the mainland and Formosa, that he is suggesting that, if the Americans do not do it someone else should, which means that we might have to send our ships?

Mr. Hynd

That is entirely fair, and I have no objection to the question being asked. My argument is not directed against protecting the Straits of Formosa, but to the fact that there should be consultation between those countries interested in destroying aggression in Korea and the whole of that area. If there is any need to protect Formosa as a neutral island until a decision has been made by the United Nations as to her ultimate fate—and in principle that means going back to China—it is a matter which should be discussed between the Members of the United Nations, just as the Korean action was discussed. Those Members of the United Nations who agreed to take any such action should be prepared to make a contribution to defending the Straits. I do not seek to avoid that conclusion at all.

Apart from the Formosan situation, the Foreign Secretary has roamed over a fairly wide field, and I would take advantage of the opportunity he has given to say a word about the Panmunjom consultations and the question of the return of prisoners of war, about which certain interventions were made. I entirely endorse the attitude adopted by our representatives and by the Americans and the Indians and others regarding the prisoner-of-war question. I take this opportunity of referring to the matter, because I have not had such an opportunity before, and because I have had previous experience of a situation not entirely dis-similar.

I will tell the House a story, which might well be given publicity, in order to clear the minds of some people on the implications of this situation. In 1945 and onwards we had in Germany and Austria large numbers of Allied and other prisoners of war, and also a large number of displaced persons—refugees from the countries taken over by the totalitarian authorities, including, in particular, the Baltic States. There was a somewhat similar kind of problem about what was to be done with those people. In the discussions we had the question arose of sending these people back to their own countries, even countries like the Baltic States, which had been taken over by Russia, and to which quite a lot of people did not want to return, especially people who had taken a certain political attitude.

On the first occasion when I visited Vienna after the war, I went round one of the camps, in which there were a large number of Baits and others from Eastern countries. There had been some forced return of these prisoners to the Baltic States, then part of the Soviet Union, just before my visit. I was taken aside by the officer in charge of the camp who said he wanted to tell me something which would probably cost him his job, but he felt that he ought to tell someone in a responsible position whatever the cost to himself might be. He told me that soon after the cessation of hostilities he had been given an order that these displaced persons and prisoners were all to be sent back to their homes. He had conveyed that decision to the prisoners and the displaced persons, and they had refused to go. He had sought to persuade these people to go and had been unsuccessful. The officer told me that he asked for further instructions and he was told they had to go, but they still refused. He again asked for further instructions, and he was told that, if necessary, they were to be forced to go. He said that men, women and children were so afraid of going back to their own country that they resisted violently the attempts of troops to put them on the trains. He said. "I had to command British boys to fix bayonets in order to defend themselves against the protests of these people, and there were a number of unfortunate casualties. Sir, I have no intention of carrying out such an order again, and instructing my soldiers to take such an action." I assured him that so long as I had any responsibility he never would receive such a command again.

That was an action which affected a relatively few people. But if our people in this country understood what an action of that kind involves, and that it is probably their sons and husbands who would be given orders to carry out such an action, I do not think there would be so much loose talk about the forcible return of prisoners.

I have diverted to that point because it was raised in the course of this debate. I return to what I consider to be the most serious aspect of this situation which we are, or should be, discussing this afternoon. Being involved in a united action concerning ourselves, America, the Commonwealth and other nations, an action in which it is definitely our policy, and the policy of the Government, to seek to contain within the narrowest possible limits, we are from time to time faced by a unilateral action by one of our partners—the most senior partner—without any previous consultation; or, if any consultation does take place it is, in fact, no consultation at all, but an announcement by the senior partner to the junior partners. Any objections or protests that happen to be made by the junior partners, as in this case, according to the Foreign Secretary's own account, are completely brushed aside.

I do not think that the American people, for all they have suffered, for all the tolerance and patience they have shown and for all the aggravations they have had to face, if they understood what was the situtaion, would endorse the policy being carried out by their own Administration. Therefore, if the position is made clear on that point, and if by the exchange of views in this House, and probably in the Press of this country and of the world, American opinion can be made aware of what we feel about this kind of thing, if the American Administration realises from the beginning of their term of office that this is not the way to ensure mutual co-operation and mutual security, then this debate will have served a very useful purpose indeed.

5.39 p.m.

Sir Ian Fraser (Morecambe and Lonsdale)

It is a long-standing British tradition to grant political asylum to people when they genuinely seek it. But it seems to me a new idea to consider granting political asylum to thousands of people at a time, and quite a new one so far as prisoners of war are concerned. I am bound to place on record my personal opinion that, were it possible to arrange an armistice in Korea, the question of not returning the Chinese and North Korean prisoners of war should not stand in the way. That may be a minority opinion, but I feel strongly about it, and I feel obliged to say that.

Were I younger and were I able, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be following my career as a Regular soldier and to be fighting in Korea. I say that to indicate my support as an old soldier of the Army there, my admiration of their efforts and my good wishes to them in all their hazards and undertakings. I also supported the United Nations in their stand against aggression at the time when it was taken. I have the greatest admiration for the military and general attitude of the United States towards this matter.

Nevertheless, as a politician, and not now as an old soldier, I think that the time has come when we ourselves should do a bit of fresh thinking about the whole problem. Before I come to that, I should like to make a few comments about Formosa. It seems to be taken for granted that President Eisenhower's statement implies a one-way removal of the blocking activity of the Seventh Fleet. It seems to be assumed that there will be freedom for the Formosan Islanders to attack the mainland, but no freedom for counter-attacks or other attacks from the mainland on Formosa.

I am not so clear that that is the case. I have wondered whether this move on the part of President Eisenhower is not a modest attempt to deal with his own politics at home and keep a part of an election promise, coupled with an early move in the matter of coming away altogether from this theatre of war. That may be a bit of wishful thinking, but it seems clear to me that the Americans would not want to be engaged in support or in defence of the Formosan troops. Therefore, the sooner they get out of the position of being a barricade between the island and the mainland the better. I hope that that may be so but, whichever way it is, it does not seem now that it will make very much difference to the situation one way or the other, except possibly to improve it.

Nothing could have been more advantageous to the North Korean general and all his plans than to have known two years ago, as he did know, that his rear and his flanks were safe. Nothing is so advantageous to a general as to know that he will not be attacked from behind or from the side. That is one of the enormous disadvantages we suffer because we are democracies. On balance, we prefer to be so, and we must take the advantages and the disadvantages; but surely it would have been much more agreeable to our military commanders, and the American military commanders, in South Korea had they been able constantly to threaten to attack the mainland, to attack the North Koreans from behind and from every conceivable flank.

That was not permitted because half a dozen Parliaments were critical and Ministers in half a dozen democratic countries had to defend the position. Therefore, a bluff of that sort could not have been maintained. But it must be advantageous to any commander in South Korea to know that his opponent is now not sure what will happen to his rear or his flanks. Therefore, if military pressure in this part of the world is going to bring peace nearer more quickly—and that is the object of military pressure at all times—we must welcome this move, and I am disposed to trust both the American Government and the American President to be acting wisely on the premise that the struggle in Korea must go on.

I come to the next point which is to ask that we here, in the most friendly way, invite our American colleagues and partners to do a bit of re-thinking about the fundamental issues involved. The Americans and ourselves entered upon this task of defending the United Nations' ideal a little emotionally. Perhaps that is a good thing because often men are moved by emotion, and certainly nations are. Nothing could have been more important for the future of mankind than that the free-thinking peoples, the Western peoples, should have moved together in any part of the world at any time. Even though they chose the worst possible place to do it in, namely, Korea, it still remains true that the important consideration was that we all did something together to show that we could be united for the ideal purpose of trying to stay aggression.

It does not follow that we must go on doing this for ever, more particularly if time and circumstances have proved to us, now that the emotion has gone a bit, that our task is an impossible one. It is to that issue that I wish to turn. There cannot be victory in Korea unless the war is widened, and none of us wants to widen it. That is my first point. Secondly, even if victory is obtained it seems to me that it is bound to be a barren victory. There cannot in any circumstances be established a South Korean Republic, a North Korean Republic or a joint Korean Republic. Such a political entity, in the light of events as we now see them, is quite inconceivable.

There is not sufficient honesty of purpose or power of administration in those countries to sustain a parliamentary democracy of any kind. There probably is not any belief in it. It may not even be the method most suitable to those people with their way of thinking and at their stage of development. The idea that we can impose upon small out-of-the-way Asian peoples methods of Government that happen to suit us in this island is, to my mind, nonsense.

The time has also gone, unhappily, when small peoples can really have independence. They cannot have an independent foreign policy. They must rely upon one or other of the great Powers, or some amalgamation of the great Powers, to provide them with a foreign policy. The plain fact is that only those nations that can build tanks, aeroplanes, guns and complex modern armaments can have foreign policies, because a foreign policy is a quite useless piece of fiction unless it is backed up by the power to support it. A foreign policy writ on paper but without power to sustain it is an invalid fiction. If small nations cannot have foreign policy, then certainly South Korea, North Korea, or the two Koreas put together, cannot have one. Therefore, they have to be subordinate in the matter of foreign policy to one or other of the great Powers or to some group of Powers, just as Panama, Colombia and one or two other States in between the Americas cannot have a foreign policy. They are not, in fact, independent free peoples. Although they may have votes in the United Nations and may pride themselves that they are free, the plain fact is that they are not.

The Minister of State (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

They have troops in Korea.

Sir I. Fraser

Good luck to them, but if Colombia had a foreign policy of their own, they would very soon find that the United States had something to say about it. That is inevitable. If Panama had one, they would very soon find that the policy could not really be free because they are not sufficiently powerful.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

What about Ireland?

Sir I. Fraser

They have been most successful because they have lived sheltered by us, as they did in the last war, and nobody would deny that, but they had no power inherent in themselves.

But I do not want to be diverted from the sincere point that I am trying to make, which is that we must do some rethinking about this matter. If victory is attained in South Korea it will be a barren victory, because we cannot attain the objective which we set out to attain and which many thought two years ago could be attained. If the Americans intended to stay in Korea for ever, or for a very long time—in the sense in which we intend to stay in Malaya, or in which British people, colonists and settlers, intend to stay in East Africa, for example, or in the sense in which the white man intends to stay in South Africa —there might be some sense in defeating the North Koreans there on the spot, in the knowledge that, when we had set up a provisional Government for the whole of Korea, it would at least be assisted by arms for a sufficient number of decades to get settled in.

But we have no assurance that the Americans will stay in Korea. Indeed, they are beginning to say they want to get out. They have not actually said so in those words, but statements have been made that Asian peoples are to be invited to take over the burden. We are to provide the arms, and let them do the fighting. There are indications that the Americans want to get out. Unless they stay there for ever, what is the use of a bloody battle which does nothing but destroy the people and the country and can lead to no permanent results whatever?

What I say is that the cold war, the great struggle between right and wrong, between ourselves and Communism, must, unhappily, go on, but the particular aspect of it which we are witnessing in Korea is the most expensive and the most fruitless of all the struggles in which we are engaged. Could we not persuade ourselves and the Americans that there are places where the effort and the sacrifice which we are making today could be of so very much more use, not to Britain alone, not to any particular country alone, but to the whole cause of freedom? I mean places like Malaya, like Indo-China, possibly even places like Europe itself, where the accession of strength to the forces of the West might have a much greater effect upon events than they could possibly have where they are now.

It will be said that honour is involved, that the Americans have suffered such great casualties in Korea that they cannot be expected to leave their dead there, and all the unhappy commitments which have been made, without first attaining victory. But they are sensible people, and they must see that victory is almost bound to be barren. They must see that, as we learned in the recent war—and so did the Americans—it is sometimes desirable to live to fight another day, and that honour is not necessarily adversely affected by a transfer of forces and power to a place where the struggle can be better carried on.

When I was a young soldier, I used to go into "No-man's-land" and do my modest bit of duty, and, if engaged by superior forces, I came back to my own trenches. I returned so that I might live to fight another day. When we were trying to hold the outposts at Singapore and other places, like the Americans in the Pacific, both we and they had to haul down our flag—the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes—at the behest of the Japanese, because we could no longer hold those places.

The loss of a battle does not mean the loss of a campaign, and a movement out of Korea would not by any means mean that we had lost the war for freedom against Communism. I appeal to our people and to the American people, in so far as they can listen to my poor words, to do some fresh thinking about this matter. I say that in the belief that there are a sufficient number of good friends of Britain in the United States, and sensible people in both our countries, who will recognise in these remarks of mine no denigration of the gallant efforts that have been made and no going back upon the great and good efforts we are both making in support of the ideal embodied in the United Nations, but only a commonsense view of how best we can bring our ideals of international law and order to a fruitful end, instead of dissipating them in the ends of the earth in a useless manner.

I beg hon. Members on all sides of the House to consider earnestly the plea I have made—that we, and, through whatever influence we have, the other nations in the United Nations, should start at once doing some re-thinking about the objects which we all have in mind.

5.57 p.m.

Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)

The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) has made a very interesting and thought-provoking speech. When he spoke about neither side being able to hope to win the battle in Korea, I thought that was a courageous thing to say, if one believes it, but when the hon. Gentleman argued from that that it would therefore be necessary in the future to extend the conflict, then we on this side of the House unanimously disagree with him.

I regarded the statement of the Foreign Secretary on Tuesday as satisfactory. He said then that the Government had at once made known their concern at the American decision, which they feared would have unfortunate political repercussions without compensating military advantages. "This," he went on to say, "continues to be the view of the Government." That was all right. But it makes the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon all the more regrettable, because what he chose to do this afternoon was to engage in what amounted to a defence of the American action. For the right hon. Gentleman today to do that, especially after the satisfactory statement which he had made earlier in the week, is very disappointing indeed.

There is really no need for the right hon. Gentleman to remind us of the restraint which the Americans have shown in the Far East in many instances, and particularly in the fact that they do not pursue hostile aircraft over the border. It is true that the Americans have shown great restraint in that respect, but, heaven knows, it was their duty to the world to show that restraint, and any failure to do so would have meant the balloon going up and the danger of a great world conflict being brought nearer.

When the Foreign Secretary informs the American Government of the anxiety felt over here regarding the political repercussions of this order to the 7th Fleet, it is important to recognise that the political repercussions are immediate. They are immediate, in my judgment, because a consequence of the order is that the war assumes the appearance of a conflict to determine who shall govern China. I do not go the length of saying, as my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) suggested some people do, that the Americans are entirely losing sight of the original objective of establishing peace and punishing an aggressor by collective action, but I do say that this kind of order is undesirable because it gives that appearance to the war, and is regarded by many people as declaratory of a situation which they have for some time feared was developing.

The American objective is allowed to appear to be the establishment in China of a Chinese Government which will enable Americans to say that they have retrieved something out of what they have always regarded as their disastrous postwar China policy. It was not, indeed, into such a conflict that British and Commonwealth Governments originally decided to send their troops, and this cannot be over-emphasised.

The danger is that the aim of punishing the North Korean aggressor by the United Nations collective action is being lost in the past and blurred in the distance. At best, it can only be said that the war now has a dual character. It is in part a United Nations campaign against aggression, but in part also—and this is an immensely significant sideline —it is an attempt by the United States to retrieve what they regard as the failure of their China policy.

For the campaign to possess that dual character is to deprive it of its pith and significance for the United Nations. Of course, as always happens, it is suggested to us that the consequences of the order, now that it has been made, may not be so significant as was at first feared. The right hon. Gentleman has said it may not amount to much. That is an old gambit. If one is at the zoo and one hears that a man-eating tiger has escaped from its cage, one breaks the news gently to one's companion. But I am not at all sure that the significance is so small as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested.

I will quote a passage from a Reuter dispatch published in "The Times" of 31st December last in which it was stated: Lieut.-General Chiang Ching-kuo, eldest son of Marshal Chiang, claimed today that Nationalist guerrillas on the mainland had killed or wounded 41,727 Communist troops between January and 15th October this year and captured 3,025 others. They had attacked and held towns on the mainland 21 times, had taken 350 villages and also nine islands off the China coast. It may well be that these claims are grossly exaggerated—they probably are —but it is none the less significant that they should have been made. I should have thought it was a fair inference to be drawn from this decision of the American Government regarding the 7th Fleet that they have concluded that the development of Nationalist guerrilla forces is now sufficiently propitious and encouraging from their point of view that any restraint by Americans upon their activities had better cease. If that inference is correct, it gives point to the Report in the "New York Times" of 3rd February from their representative in Formosa: Small-scale raid actions had been carried on in the past by commando units. The report goes on to quote an officer as saying: It does not necessarily have to be small wooden junks and 'sea guerrillas' now. It gives point also to the reported observation of Colonel Ben C. Limb, the Republic of Korea's observer at the United Nations, that he hoped to see the Nationalist Government establish a second front in China in the near future. I suggest, therefore, that the thing may have rather greater military significance than has been admitted. The point is not, of course, that these military forays may and probably will prove ineffective in the result, and meet with defeat. The point is that nothing stiffens resistance behind a new régime more than counterrevolutionary action against it supported by a foreign Power.

The drive of the United Nations campaign will tend to lose its impetus as the original high objective of collective security is blurred and, parallel with that, the resistance of the Chinese will tend to strengthen as the counter-revolutionary nature of the campaign against them becomes clearer. These would be grave events. The swing to the right all over the world has gone pretty far. Indeed, the point has nearly been reached where one cannot quote from the Bill of Rights without being called a Communist, and if a citizen is in difficulties and dares to whisper the words habeas corpus he will almost certainly be mistaken for a revolutionary Trotskyist.

But in this free House we can still assert our opinion on these things, and our opinion is that nothing, even now, is more important than that collective action against a declared aggressor should succeed. There is no doubt about that. Punishment of an aggressor and the containment of Communist powers are legitimate objectives, and it was those objectives that brought us unitedly into the Korean war. All the greater, therefore, is the tragedy that they should have become obscured. A leading article in the "New York Times" of 3rd February says: The President's statement is a recognition that the policy of containment is no longer adequate. Those are grave words indeed, since the policy of containment is our policy. Some of us fear that this war is becoming a war to overthrow the Chinese Government which we have recognised. The purposes that brought us together are being lost sight of. The implications of this are being weighed today in countless British families and homes, and it would be a mistake to underrate the gravity of the error which our American Allies have committed.

6.9 p.m.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

I do not know why the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) went out of his way to protest against the action of the Foreign Secretary in trying to explain to this House and the country the motives and methods of thought that lie behind the American action. It seemed to me not only a very natural and proper thing to do, but a very necessary thing to do. I regret the fact that the Foreign Secretary's statement the day before yesterday was not made in the course of a debate and that he was thus given no opportunity of putting to the House the other side of the case, because, of course, there is another side to it.

There is a great deal to be said for the American point of view. I rise for the purpose of expressing the opinion that the House and the country are by no means as alarmed as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) seems to think. [Interruption.] The Foreign Secretary is not behind the right hon. Gentleman in the least. I regret that the debate has taken place. I believe that it will do a great deal of harm.

To begin with, I think that it is extraordinary and unprecedented that the Opposition should rush in to demand a debate not to criticise Her Majesty's Government, but to criticise the action of the Government not only of a friendly Power but of our principal ally in the world, without whose efforts in the last war we should not be here. It is playing with fire. I do not attribute motives or purposes which I cannot fathom for rushing into a debate and engaging in a rather willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike, but nevertheless harsh, criticism of the action of a foreign Power. It is unfortunate, it is bad manners, and it is bad tactics, and there is something rather sinister behind it.

Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

Did the hon. Member hear the Foreign Secretary, who thanked my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) for having raised the debate and having given the opportunity to the Foreign Secretary to say what he did say?

Mr. Nicholson

Naturally the Foreign Secretary thanks the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South for giving him an opportunity of saying what he did say, but he did not thank the right hon. Gentleman for saying what the right hon. Gentleman said. The opportunity was welcome, but another method should have been adopted for giving that opportunity.

It is extraordinarily foolish and bad tactics to indulge in such wanton criticism. We can indulge in criticism of the method of declaration, of the unilateral action and of the short notice and so on if we like, but to play with such dangerous fire, with such a vital relationship as exists between us and America today, shows a lack of responsibility. It is bad tactics for the reason that we expect America to help us in Persia, Egypt, Malaya and elsewhere, and then as soon as America trips up and makes an error in procedure and tactics, we jump down her throat and all the left-wing organisations of this country rush in to criticise her.

It is sinister because every word said from the benches opposite today is echoed in the "Daily Worker." I do not mind left-wing forces being united, but the loudest criticism of all, even louder than that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South, comes from the "Daily Worker."

Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)


Mr. Nicholson

I would rather make my speech in my own way. No doubt the hon. Member will be called later.

I protest against the wanton use of the procedure of this House to indulge in anti-American feeling to this extent. There is no unanimity in this country in criticism of the American action, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South sought to imply. There is a great body of feeling in this country that there is good reason behind the American action.

Hon. Members opposite claim that there is nothing in the argument that this action will contain a large number of Chinese Communist troops. They may sneer at the Nationalist forces, but nobody in this House knows whether those forces are powerful or poor fighting material. The mere threat of raids, or of something larger than raids, is bound to contain large forces of Chinese troops on the mainland and to relieve the pressure in Indo-China and Malaya.

People talk about the vast and dangerous political consequences of this action. They do not specify what those consequences are. They make veiled hints and mysterious threats of disastrous consequences. We should be told what they are. We cannot get away from the fact that the war in Korea is a real war. Men in Korea are fighting and dying in just as real a way as if they were fighting a war in Europe or anywhere else. We cannot win a war, in which the Chinese are engaged against us up to the hilt, by practising a policy of appeasement, by fearing unknown political consequences as a result of failing to restrain people who dislike that particular Government from waging war on the mainland.

I hope that it will not go out from this House that this House or the country is unsympathetic to the American action. I hope that it will go out that there is a large body of feeling of the utmost sympathy in this House and in the country. I hope that it will go out that, while we regret the unilateral action, we believe that it is very likely that the Americans have been perfectly right.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)

The speech to which we have just listened was a very remarkable one and may partly explain the extraordinary contrast between the attitude of the Foreign Secretary in answering Questions two days ago and his attitude this afternoon. I must say that I preferred the Foreign Secretary two days ago. The right hon. Gentleman was making it quite clear that the view of Her Majesty's Government was opposed in principle and in practice to the unilateral action of the American Government. At that time, of course, he was warmly applauded from this side of the House and was received in stony silence by his supporters.

We all noticed the difference; and I have no doubt that the speech which the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) has just delivered would be a true picture of what the majority of the Tory Party believe—ardent for America's action, ardent for extending the war, ardent for taking extra risks. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am sorry, but we have already had a speech demanding withdrawal from Korea in order to fight somewhere else in the Far East.

Mr. Nicholson

Ardent to win a war which British and American troops are fighting and in which they are dying, and ardent in not trying to win that war by a pointless, irrational and illogical policy of fruitless appeasement.

Mr. Crossman

We have got it quite clear—ardent not to contain the war in Korea, ardent not to accept the limitation of the war which had been imposed by President Truman, ardent to have those limitations removed so as to extend the area of hostilities. The hon. Member had better remember what he said. He asked whether it would not be sensible to draw off troops from Malaya by actions further south. That can only be called extending the war. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did not say that"] At least the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) advised that it might be clever strategy to draw off Chinese troops in that way. He should know that he is advising an extension of the war. At least we on this side of the House have not shown enthusiasm for that, nor have Her Majesty's Government.

Two days ago the Foreign Secretary was firmly against it, but after an afternoon with Mr. Dulles he was not quite so firm. Indeed, he spent 90 per cent. of his speech today in explaining to us why it was perfectly reasonable for the Americans to do this thing. At the end of his speech, I did not know whether he was arguing for American policy or for the policy he was putting forward two days ago. I thought that two days ago the idea of having this debate was to send Mr. Dulles away with the views of the British people echoing in his ears so that he could tell President Eisenhower at least what this country thinks.

Now we have a debate after consultation with Mr. Dulles, and one would hardly know from the Foreign Secretary's speech that he is still opposed to the American action. He popped in a few sentences now and again, between exculpations, apologies and sentimentalisations, saying "I am opposed to it, but we must go further to see how sensible is the policy to which I am opposed." That is strange. The attitude of the Tory Party partly explains it, and the meeting with Mr. Dulles. The fact is that the policy of the Government on this issue happened to be right. They were right to oppose President Eisenhower's policy. They did not like it, of course, because of the reason given by the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale—that it involves great risk. The only question is whether we do not find even graver risks by failing to oppose it, because that is the issue before this House.

This is the first major issue between this country and America, and the way in which we handle this issue sets a precedent for the relations between this Government and the new Administration of America. If this issue is handled from here with strength, firmness and determination, then the unfortunate attempt to act unilaterally without consultation may possibly not be repeated by Mr. Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles. But if we have the sort of speech to which we have just listened and if we have the Foreign Secretary weakening down day by day, it is unlikely that we shall not find month by month the new Administration in America adopting this principle.

I think it was "The Times" correspondent in Washington who said that the difference between the new Administration and the Truman Administration is that the new Administration tell their allies, whereas the Truman Administration asked their allies. I suggest to the Foreign Secretary and to the Prime Minister, now that he is here, that it will not assist our relations with the American Administration if we say that there should be no criticism of them in this House and no support of the Foreign Secretary's view which was expressed on Tuesday that the Formosa action was very dangerous and would have political disadvantages far graver than any possible military advantages. It is a pity to water down what was said on Tuesday. I am hoping to de-water it in the course of this evening, with some assistance from this side of the House.

Let us get to the facts. What is the new American policy? When the Korean war started, the chief accusations by the Americans against the Russians were that they were waging war by proxy, that they were setting the North Koreans to fight a war for them and that they were not risking one Russian soldier. They were using a small nation to fight their war. I thought that was a righteous criticism of the Russians. Two years later President Eisenhower announces war by proxy, for he is doing with Formosa precisely what the Russians were rightly accused of doing with the North Koreans—using Asians. As he said in his election campaign, "Get the boys home and use Asians to fight Asians." That is war by proxy—white men fighting for their white interests with the bodies of coloured people.

Mr. Edward Wakefield (Derbyshire, West)

What nonsense.

Mr. Crossman

This is said to be non-sense, but if President Eisenhower tells us himself that the principle is Asians versus Asians, surely that is the principle of war by proxy. Surely that is the principle of trying to ensure that the white nations have as few soldiers as possible fighting, and the Asians as many as possible.

Mr. Wakefield

The hon. Gentleman says that President Eisenhower is using Asians to protect white interests. May I ask what are particularly white interests in South Korea?

Mr. Crossman

The interest, as defined by the American Administration, is the overthrow of Chinese Communism. That is the aim of the present Administration. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members opposite should read the works of Mr. Dulles. They should read his speeches and the speeches of President Eisenhower. They believe that the world will not be at peace until Chiang Kai-shek is substituted for Mao Tse-tung. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] If it is nonsense, then, of course, the de-neutralisation of Formosa becomes even more fantastic.

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the Americans are telling Chiang Kai-shek, "You can go and fight on the mainland, but if there is any chance of your succeeding we will let you down"? Why is Chiang Kai-shek going on the mainland? In order to throw out the Communists. If the Americans said to Chiang Kai-shek, "We will provide you with arms and weapons and you can go on the mainland, but we do not intend that you shall overthrow the Communists"—

Mr. Wakefield

Would the hon. Gentleman like Chiang Kai-shek's expedition to the mainland to succeed or not?

Mr. Crossman

I do not want Chiang Kai-shek to go to the mainland. I agree with the Foreign Secretary. Clearly I do not want him to succeed. For one thing, he cannot succeed. Those who launched the armies of intervention against the Russians in 1917–18 are now supporting the Chiang Kai-shek, the Bao Dais, the Syngman Rhees, these great heroes of democracy, who are going in to overthrow Communism. I say to hon. Members opposite: Can you never learn anything from history? The Conservative back benchers are repeating every mistake made by the present Prime Minister in 1917–18 in regard to the Russians. If we get Chiang Kai-shek's forces on the mainland, they will fail, and then somebody will have to bale them out. Who is going to bale them out—we and the Americans, or the Americans alone? That is the issue which we have to discuss.

Of course, there are excuses for this policy. They were given by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon. He said "Why should the 7th Fleet protect the Communists?" That, of course, was a frightfully disingenuous question. In 1950, when the 7th Fleet was first put there, there were Communist invasion barges lining up, and it was put there to stop the Communists invading Formosa. The change in the situation now is due to the American equipment of Chiang Kai-shek's army.

It comes to this: they protect Chiang Kai-shek until they have re-armed him sufficiently to go back on the mainland. Then somebody says, "This is not war by proxy." Of course, it is war by proxy. It is the old policy that the Russians started in Korea. We are told that it does not matter because it has been going on for some months. Then we are told that this is good psychological warfare. The hon. Member for Farnham said that.

Mr. Nicholson

I never mentioned it.

Mr. Crossman

He said it would draw the armies down from the north. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman refused to give way to me, so perhaps he will be quiet while I am speaking. We cannot draw the armies down from the north with phantom armies. Any serious withdrawal of Chinese armies from Korea demands a serious invasion from the mainland. We are told that the Americans were un-officially playing about with these small units for some months, and they now say, "We will do the thing openly." This has all been announced in the American Press as wonderful strategy designed to bring the armies out of Korea. What nonsense it is.

We come to the true reason, which was not given by the Foreign Secretary. This is the pay-off of the China Lobby. As someone said yesterday, we ought to be grateful to Mr. Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles that this is all the price we have to pay for the China Lobby. This is a bit of American domestic politics, we are told, so we need not worry about it. This is one of those exterior risks of war which we have to suffer for the sake of American domestic politics. There is a lot of truth in it.

I do not anticipate any increased risk of war because of this first action by itself, because it is really no action at all. It is merely a public announcement of what has been happening for the last six months, made in order to make the China Lobby feel good. It is not a very creditable thing to do, but in itself it is not of very great importance.

What matters about this is not the incident itself, but how Britain and the rest of America's Allies handle this incident. Thank Heaven we have had such an incident, where America has done something foolish and irresponsible—but not mortally dangerous—without consulting us. It is a perfect case for testing the partnership between America and her Allies by having it out with her. If we do not have this case out with her—a case which is not mortally dangerous—what is to happen when America does something really dangerous? That is the possibility which we must grasp.

I want to discuss with the Foreign Secretary the question of what the British Government should do when the Foreign Secretary is insulted. This action by the Americans is not merely a unilateral one but a singularly insulting one. The Prime Minister went over and had talks for three days in New York. This subject was discussed. We can read the American Press and find out from Mr. James Reston what were the subjects of the conversations. It has all been published in America. The Prime Minister had discussions first with Mr. Dulles and then with Mr. Eisenhower and Mr. Acheson, and the reports of those discussions were printed in America the next day so that we could read them.

It is clear from what the Prime Minister said in his Press interview in New York "he did not want armies wandering about in China"—that he was aware of the danger of the Americans taking this action. I am sure he used all his immense powers of persuasion to make Mr. Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles see sense. He spent hours with them, but to no avail, and when on the 28th of last month the Foreign Secretary sent the British Ambassador to ask courteously for consultation before the Americans took this action, there was no reply, except that two days later the curt information was given that the action had been taken.

That is the Foreign Secretary's own history of the event. Could any event be more sinister for the relations between the two countries than the deliberate change from the Democratic President's policy of consultation, which was exemplified on a previous occasion when Mr. Acheson very nicely apologised and said frankly, "We made a mistake in not consulting you"? On this occasion Mr. Dulles said frankly, "We have deliberately not consulted you." He said, quite deliberately, "We have not consulted you"—on a matter of vital interest to every Power concerned in the Korean war and in the future of the Pacific.

So we are now told by the new American Administration, "We do not intend to consult you in future; we intend to tell you what the policy is." The question we have to ask ourselves is how are we to persuade them not to do it? Is it by statements like that which was made by the Foreign Secretary on Tuesday or by the one he made today? I prefer the speech he made on Tuesday. Americans are very honest and straightforward people and they under- stand straight talk. They do not like diplomatic politeness; they do not respect it; they despise it. If this House does not register in the strongest possible measure its indignation at America's handling of this question, it will be repeated time after time, and I shall not blame the Americans for doing so.

Mr. P. Roberts

If the hon. Member is arguing that it is of vital interest that there must be a protecting fleet between Formosa and the mainland, he is putting forward the same argument as that of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), which means that he wants the British Navy to carry out the protection.

Mr. Crossman

I am not going to shirk the issue of what we should do. Nobody else has told us, least of all the Foreign Secretary. I should not send in the Navy as my first weapon. We still have consuls in Formosa, although we recognise the Government of Communist China. The Americans have taken unilateral action encouraging Chiang Kai-shek to go on to the mainland. I should respond with the unilateral action of withdrawing the British consuls from Formosa. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh at the suggestion of any action which will impress on the American Government the fact that the Foreign Secretary was sincere in what he said two days ago.

If he is sincere and wants to change America's policy, does he think he will be able to do it without impressing on the Americans that we are serious? If we are serious about this we have to stand by our policy, which is to recognise Communist China. If we recognise Communist China it is absurd—and I have always thought it to be so—that we should maintain a half-recognition of Chiang Kai-shek. We should announce now that we oppose the presence of the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek on the Security Council and that we would rather have no one representing China until some genuine representative can be found.

If the Foreign Secretary would take such ideas seriously he might have some chance of impressing Mr. Dulles; but if he takes his present line and says that it is possible to overlook this action, and says that although he is sorry it happened he will not do anything about it and will seek to explain how justified America was in doing it, it will be repeated time after time until the final logical conclusion is reached when, after in addition to Syngman Rhee, Chiang Kai-shek and Bao Dai as champions of so-called democracy, we shall have Japan armed and sent on to the mainland of China by America to fight her wars.

When I say that we should be tough on the subject of Chiang Kai-shek, it is not that I am afraid of him. I am afraid of the policy which will lead to the arming of Japan and the irony of the democracies backing the Japanese invasion of China. That looks fantastic today; but in two or three years' time, if we do not call a halt and have the courage to stand up against American policy today—we shall listen to the Foreign Secretary getting up and saying to us, "I do disagree with the U.S.A.'s policy of telling Japan to invade China, but there is so much to be said for the American point of view." Yes, we shall come to that, and I beg that we should prevent it.

6.39 p.m.

Mr. Richard Law (Hull, Haltemprice)

When I was a young man I was told that secret diplomacy was a very wicked and dangerous thing and that open diplomacy was very much better. After listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), I think there is more to be said for the old method than people generally think. The hon. Member's speech was not wicked. Foolish, yes; mischievous, yes; but not wicked. But it was highly dangerous. We are having this debate in the shadow of war in the Far East and in the darker shadow of a third world war—

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

We shall not be in it.

Mr. Law

—which will not be a war to end war but a war to end the world. The hon. Member for Coventry, East and some of his friends try to persuade the House and the country—

Mr. Crossman

—to stop the drift to war.

Mr. Law

—that the policy of the new Administration in the United States is bringing that third world war nearer.

Mr. Crossman

That is right.

Mr. Law

Nobody believes that except the hon. Member, a few of his friends, and some people whom he and his friends have misled.

I do not think that a third world war is inevitable. I think we shall avoid it if we show enough firmness and constancy of mind, perhaps over a long period, but the one thing that would make a third world war inevitable is the thing for which our enemies are working and watching and waiting day by day, and that is a breakdown in the will and the purpose of the Western alliance, and that is what the hon. Member—I do not know what his aims are—is certainly working for.

The hon. Member said that the purpose of this debate was to send Mr. Dulles away with the views of the British people ringing in his ears. I do not know what the purpose of this debate was because I did not ask for it, but I think I know who did ask for it; it was not the China Lobby; it was an Ebbw Vale cave. I hope that Mr. Foster Dulles will go away with the opinion of the British people in his ears, and I hope that he will not be misled—I know that he will not be—into thinking that that farrago of nonsense and mischief to which the House has just been treated represents anything but the opinion of a minority which on these matters has always been wrong.

It seems to me that there is only one thing we can do to make war certain; it is the thing that our enemies are waiting for, and watching for, and working for; it is to break up the Western association, and in particular to break up the association of this country with the United States of America. I think we should all of us guard our tongues very carefully, and see that nothing we say tends to weaken the structure of that Western association. I think we have all come to take it for granted, perhaps a little too much for granted.

I think we have all come to take too readily the view which the hon. Member expressed—that it is right to stand up to the Americans; that they like plain speaking; that they do not want to be treated with kid gloves; that we should be mealy-mouthed. I think that view is wrong, and I think the language is wrong—I will tell the hon. Member why—because it is the language one uses in relation to one's enemies, not in relation to one's friends. One does not stand up to one's friends, one does not seek to stop them; to knock them down; one seeks to understand their point of view and to persuade them to understand ours.

If we want the United States Government and the people of the United States to understand how the British people feel in this matter, we have got to make a great deal more effort to understand their feelings than we have yet done. When the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon that what was demanded of us was a real effort of the imagination, he was absolutely right. It is our job, in this continuing crisis, to make an effort of the imagination and to seek to understand what the Americans really feel.

Are we really to suppose that if there is an hysterical and emotional tendency in the American make-up—and that is the implication of the speech of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) earlier today—I do not agree with it—that we are really going to overcome it by the kind of hysterical, waspish homilies to which the House and the country and the North American Continent are too often treated by the benches opposite? We are certainly not going to overcome it in that way.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson), and on this point with the hon. Member for Coventry, East, because, if I understood the hon. Member, he said that this decision was, taken by itself, not really very important. I do not think that it is, taken by itself. With the information at my disposal, such as it is, I think that, other things being equal, I should have preferred the decision not to have been taken; but I do not think it is a matter of very great importance; still less do I think it is a matter which should be the occasion for speeches like that of the hon. Member for Coventry, East.

I do think, however, that anybody who knows the United States realises that there is a contrast between the American temperament and the British temperament. The American is always anxious, whenever he sees a problem, to see a cut-and-dried solution. We are more phlegmatic; we do not mind muddling through. The American tends in some cases to prefer certainty even to success, and I believe that to be a dangerous tendency in American politics. But again, the way to curb, to check that is not to lecture the Americans, not to sting them, not to goad them; and that is what the hon. Member was doing. The way to deal with that is to seek to understand their position.

Their position in the Far East is far more serious to them than I think most of our people realise. We admit that the United States has suffered far more casualties than we have, but we say that we are equally as extended, perhaps more so, in other parts of the world—the French in Indo-China, ourselves in Germany, Malaya, etc. But it is no use, when the American is being hurt, when his boys are being killed, when his casualties in Korea are high, talking to him like that; and it is no use trying to persuade ourselves that the American war effort is something which the Americans undertake with one hand behind their backs, as a lot of people seem to suppose.

It is a very serious war effort indeed and, leaving Korea aside, it is a great deal more serious than anything which we have to sustain here. Almost exactly a year ago I had dinner in a United States destroyer in the Pacific, and there were two young officers in what we call the wardroom and which I think they call "Officers' Country." They were two young officers who had fought through most of the war in the United States Navy, who had then been released, and who were just getting under way with their professions—one was a lawyer and the other, I think, was an architect—when they were hauled back into the Navy, not just as "Z" Reservists called for a 14 days' refresher course: they were hauled back for the duration, and, as far as I know, they are still there.

I do not believe that our people in this country, although they realise the great scope of the American effort, have realised what a strain that effort is. And I think that if we want to influence American opinion we shall do it much better by explaining to our people what the real position is there than by the kind of attack which has just been delivered by the hon. Member for Coventry, East.

Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he in fact does support the Foreign Secretary in the protest he made to the American Government? So far no single Member speaking from the back benches on that side of the House has supported the Foreign Secretary at all.

Mr. Law

Well, if the hon. Member is unable to infer from what I have been saying my support of the Foreign Secretary, I do not know that it will help him very much if I declare categorically that, of course, I support him. [HON. MEMBERS: "Say it."] Of course I support my right hon. Friend in this. I support him in his efforts to make United States' policy conform with his ideas and, if I may say so, my ideas; and I support him also in his effort to see that the position of the United States is understood in this country, and that the effort of the imagination for which he asks is made. I believe that it is not only on that side of the House that that effort will have to be made.

I should like just to say one word more. I think both sides of the House have a great deal to overcome—a great many barriers to overcome—in their thinking about world problems today. On the one hand, hon. Members opposite, disillusioned as they are by Russia, the workers' paradise, must feel a tendency to, so to speak, take their revenge on this great capitalist giant—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—which is still free on the other side of the ocean—on the other side of the world.

On this side of the House we are very conscious of past glories. We are conscious that we are no longer the greatest sea power in the world; the greatest financial power in the world; and there must be a tendency in all our breasts to have a feeling of resentment—slight resentment—against those who have taken our place. Well, that is a natural instinct, but it is not one that we can afford to indulge. This country can become great again—as great as ever she was in the past. But she will not become great by looking to the past; only by looking to the future.

6.54 p.m.

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, South-East)

This debate, like many debates we have on foreign affairs nowadays, seems to be on two subjects at once: first of all, on various political issues which are raised in the areas under discussion, and, second, on the permanent political problem of how to conduct British relations with our most important ally—an ally who, as has been said several times today, is very much more powerful than we are. I should like to say a few words about this problem of how to get along with the country which is and must remain our ally for many years to come if peace is to be maintained.

As far as the immediate occasion of this debate is concerned, I agree very much with what my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said, that the American decision announced on Monday did not represent a major change in American policy. It simply gave formal sanction to a shift in policy which developed almost a year ago, and against which, the Foreign Secretary told us, he has protested on several occasions since last November. On the other hand, by giving formal public sanction to that policy, which itself, in my view, is mistaken, the American Government have taken a step which, in the Foreign Secretary's words, has political consequences which far outweigh any possible military advantages. Those political consequences were outlined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) in opening the debate.

I also agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East when he says that whether or not this formal change of policy will have very much graver consequences in future will depend largely on the strength and persistence with which the British Government make their view known on this policy during the weeks and months to come. If in fact the new policy does lead to aggression by proxy—to the situation which in fact the Russians and Chinese have enjoyed in Korea, that is to say, to privileged aggression by satellite States which are at all times protected by a great Power, then it could have serious consequences, above all for Britain and other European countries which have local interests in the area concerned without the power to protect them should they be threatened by a new Chinese policy.

How can we best make our view on this issue known? Let me say to begin with that I do not believe that any useful purpose is served by public or private visits of the Prime Minister without Foreign Office advisers. Just over a year ago the Prime Minister went to the United States and addressed Congress, and there is no question that he gave the whole of American public opinion a completely false impression of what his own Government's policy was, and in order to correct that false impression we, the Opposition, in Parliament here, had to spend weeks questioning Ministers, culminating in a vote of censure, when the Prime Minister was finally compelled to admit that the form of words he had used in speaking to Congress might have been misunderstood; and, in fact, he was compelled to express himself more precisely.

Personally, I am glad at least that this time the Prime Minister's visit was a private one, because on this occasion he was able only to mislead Mr. Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles, and not the American people as a whole, which can much more properly take its opinions from a debate in this House and from such statements as the Foreign Secretary made on Tuesday.

But surely it is clear that on these immensely important issues, which are strictly diplomatic issues, it is primarily the job of the Foreign Secretary, his junior Ministers and his civil servants, to conduct the representations which may have to be made to the American Government. What are the conditions for effective representations to the United States? What we are asking for is consultation, and consultation to be effective—in other words, to produce agreement—must take place in a certain sort of atmosphere; an atmosphere in which both parties recognise from the start that the need to reach agreement is paramount, and in which both are led to understand the other person's point of view; and the aim of consultation must always be to produce agreement.

I do not think that the right atmosphere for such consultation is the atmosphere of rather pompous patronage, talking to erring schoolboys, such as was recommended by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law), in which the peculiar characteristics of the genus "American" is analysed in public as if talking about "the African" in the 19th century. I equally do not believe that the atmosphere in which consultation can prosper can be an atmosphere in which one of the parties is inspired by an excitable and vindictive self-righteousness, such as that into which I thought on some occasions my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East fell.

What we must do is to try to understand one another's points of view, and to understand that they are quite legitimate. The Amercians are behaving in the Far East as an extremely powerful country which has few important local interests at stake which it is not fully capable of protecting, whatever the consequences. Britain and America's other European allies are weak in the Far East; they have very important local interests in the area of conflict which they would find great difficulty in protecting if the conflict spread, and that is in essence the difference between us. It is a quite genuine difference of national interest, and American policy is, in part, inspired just as much by legitimate national interest as by any emotional atmosphere such as has been talked of today, or indeed by the illegitimate pressure of private vested interests like the China Lobby.

On this issue in the Far East, as on many of the issues we shall have to discuss with the Americans in the months to come, the fundamental British interest is one which is shared between Britain and many of America's other allies in Europe. In this instance, of course, it is shared by France, above all, and to an equal extent by India and many of the Commonwealth countries. When an issue of this type arises, surely it is better that consultation should take place, not bilaterally between Britain and the United States alone, but multilaterally between the United States and all the countries affected by American policy within whatever framework is thought to be most suitable at the time.

There is a framework in which all America's present allies are included, and that is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Although the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation began as an organisation concerned mainly with the problems of the North Atlantic area, it has during the last 18 months or so vastly extended the geographical range of its scope. It has been extended to the Middle East by the adhesion of Greece and Turkey in the recent past, and at the last N.A.T.O. Council meeting all members of N.A.T.O. took cognizance of the French problem in Indo-China, to which the Foreign Secretary referred this afternoon. I should like the Secretary of State when replying to answer this question. What precise commitments are envisaged for Britain as resulting from the N.A.T.O. decision, last December I think it was, to treat the Indo-China problem as a common problem of all the N.A.T.O. countries?

I suggest that in future, when important issues affecting all the Atlantic allies together arise in any part of the world, some attempt should be made to have them discussed in a framework where consultation is obligatory and is the rule. One of the most serious developments in the international field in the last few years is the gradual decomposition of N.A.T.O. as a political organisation; a general tendency by all its members—and this country is not guiltless in this respect—to by-pass N.A.T.O. when important decisions affecting all the members of N.A.T.O. have to be taken.

One of the most worrying things about speeches which have recently been made by American Ministers is, in my opinion, a tendency either to ignore N.A.T.O. or to define its functions in a way quite different from what were understood to be its functions by most of its members. We had an example in Mr. Dulles's speech on television last week. Then there was a very serious omission in Mr. Eisenhower's State of the Union Message in which, I think, he talked at great length about the obligation of Europeans to unite but did not refer at any point to the North Atlantic Community of which he was supposed to be one of the foremost champions in the United States. This country has a very strong interest and obligation to try to restore to N.A.T.O. its rightful place as the main organ of consultation between America and her allies. It is a thing which could do nothing but good, and failure to do that may lead to very serious consequences.

A suggestion was made last week by the American Secretary of State that there should be formed a completely different sort of N.A.T.O. for Asia, from which presumably Britain would be excluded, as it is envisaged she should be excluded from the Australia-New Zealand-United States Pacific Pact. It seems to me that if there is to be co-ordinated action in the Pacific it might very well be discussed inside N.A.T.O. in Paris before any decision is taken. I should like the Minister of State to tell us in reply whether the Government are taking any steps to discuss these new proposals of the American Government inside the N.A.T.O. framework when the next opportunity arises; and, indeed, whether the British Government will not seek to make an opportunity for such discussions as soon as possible, because the consequences of failure to do this will be extremely serious, not only in Asia but also in the Middle East and in Europe in the very near future.

That is all I have to say. We are really concerned with creating an atmosphere in which consultation will be profitable and finding a framework within which consultation can take place. I am convinced—and I hope the Foreign Secretary is equally convinced—that the best framework within which the best atmosphere already exists is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

7.8 p.m.

Mr. F. M. Bennett (Reading, North)

In the short speech I intend to make I shall not follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey), except to say that we prefer his way of speech, and his contribution this afternoon, to that of his hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman).

The reason that has impelled me to try to catch your eye this evening, Mr. Speaker, arises from the two months' tour I was fortunate to make of the United States on a nation-wide basis in the late summer and autumn of last year. My purpose then was to learn the general American point of view, and not just a newspaper one, on various international issues and, in the main, on the Korean war and the Far East. I am sure that Members of Parliament of both parties who were in America at that time would agree with me about one thing, and that is that the determination on the part of America to seek some fresh initiative to end the Korean war is not limited to the China Lobby or to a few Republican senators, but represents the widespread feeling of nearly every American citizen throughout the entire North American Continent.

I do not remember one conversation that I had, whether it was private, unofficial, in the street or elsewhere, whatever the political allegiance of the persons I was talking to, in which they did not make the point that they were utterly fed up with the stalemate in Korea and were looking for some way out of it. That is the first factor that we ought to appreciate, that if we imagine that in this House, or through the Foreign Office, we can make our influence felt by trying to override simply a few senators of the extreme wing, or General MacArthur or Senator McCarthy, we are seriously misleading ourselves. We must face the fact that we are dealing with a determination on the part of 150 million people who see their sons constantly dying in a war to which they see no end. It is as well, I feel, that we should all take that into account, whether we agree with the particular steps that may or may not be taken.

I think that it is abundantly clear, although it is always hard to interpret another country's elections, that one of the main reasons for the election of Mr. Eisenhower was precisely because the people felt that with his election they had some hope of a new initiative and some hope of ending the Korean war. It may be that after 20 years of Democratic rule there would have been a swing of the pendulum in any case, but I am convinced that the substantial measure of his victory was to a large extent attributable to public impatience with the failure to find a means of settlement of the Korean war.

I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law) on one point, in that I do not think that this feeling of impatience is only of the genus American. I believe that we or any other country would feel equally impatient if we had 116,000 casualties over the last two years and saw those casualties steadily mounting and no way out. Indeed, I think that it is a sign of virility in a nation that they want to do something about seeing that their sons do not die in a war without there being any end to it. I think that we should try to put ourselves in others' shoes, and then make our point of view through understanding, because then, as the Foreign Secretary said, I believe that we have much more chance of making the British point of view felt and respected. I am sure that if we try, in the manner of the speech made by the hon. Member for Coventry, East, simply to attack and criticise a very sensitive public, when they are feeling thoroughly upset about the state of affairs, we shall not achieve our end by getting them to listen more to us. Exactly the opposite will be the case.

When I tried to find out the position by saying as a test, "I hope you realise that this is a United Nations effort and you have got to listen to us," the immediate response was, "It may be a United Nations effort, but who is doing all the fighting? We are doing most of it. Supposing the United Nations goes out of it and we carry on on our own, what have we to lose, and if our friends let us down here, we shall have to reconsider our attitude elsewhere in the world."

That sort of response shows the great danger that could arise if that sort of censuring opinion went out from this House or this country from whatever Government may be in power. I feel, indeed, that the result would be that America would continue to pursue her policy and we should have considerably less support from her in parts of the world where we need it at the moment, economically and militarily, and the net result would be that we should be the losers and not the gainers.

It is also possible to exaggerate, as was said earlier today, the effect of these sort of events in the Far East which cause, as did the Yalu River bombing and this incident today, a sudden wave of excitement, particularly among hon. Members opposite. I sat throughout that debate on the Yalu River bombing, and I can well remember speeches in which awful consequences were presaged. including the outbreak of world war in a couple of weeks. None of these awful things happened, nor did any worsening of the situation take place.

I also seem to remember—although I was not in the House then—that when the neutralisation policy of Formosa was first declared there were many hon. Members opposite who disagreed violently with it being neutralised, although the same now appear equally to disagree with it being de-neutralised. I find it difficult to understand why that change of opinion has come about.

Mr. Wyatt

The difference is that when Formosa was neutralised it was completely neutralised. No attacks either way were allowed. Now that it has been partially de-neutralised, attacks can be allowed one way and not the other.

Mr. Bennett

I was expecting that possible rejoinder but no such statement has in fact been made, that it was totally neutralised before and is partially de-neutralised now. I prefer my own interpretation of this change of view, which is that at that time many hon. Members on the benches opposite by no means objected to seeing Formosa taken by the Communists and General Chiang Kai-shek thrown out. Their anxiety now about de-neutralisation arises from the fear that General Chiang Kai-shek, having been re-armed and in a much better military position, may inflict losses and casualties on the Red Chinese.

I only want to end with a simple plea, based on my own experience during the last few months, in which the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) shared, that we are not going to make America change her mind by sniping at her here or anywhere else. We have instead to pursue the precise policy which the Foreign Secretary exemplified two days ago and today, and that is to make our protest in a dignified way when we disagree and then try to understand the point of view of those who are bearing the vast brunt of this singularly unpopular and unprofitable struggle.

7. 17 p.m.

Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)

The hon. Gentleman for Reading, North (Mr. F. M. Bennett), gave, I think, a very fair exposition of one particular school of thought as to how we should deal with the Americans. He said that we could only retain our influence with the Americans so long as we could go side by side with the Americans.

Mr. Bennett

And seek to understand them.

Mr. Donnelly

Naturally we should seek to understand them. The point I think he was making was that if we get argumentative with the Americans, the Americans will break with us and we shall cease to have any influence with them. That, I think, is a fair exposition of what the hon. Gentleman thinks. That is a classic example of a marriage going on the rocks in which one partner is tagging along with the other because he or she is afraid to make a stand, with self-respect continually diminishing and one partner having entirely his own way, and the other partner hanging on because of the fear of a break and its consequences.

Mr. Bennett

I have never heard of a case in which nagging helped to hold a marriage together.

Mr. Donnelly

Nagging does not, but frank speaking and honesty do on a number of occasions. I think that is a very important point to remember. The hon. Gentleman would also do well to remember that to go on doing what one knows to be wrong because one is afraid of the consequences of doing that which is right is a classic definition of appeasement, and that is exactly what he and his hon. Friends were doing before the war, and what so many of those who sat on the benches opposite were supporting and advocating in the days of Neville Chamberlain and Munich. It is coming back and the wheel of history is turning full circle. We are seeing it already in other directions. There are many with the same attitude of mind and the same approach to foreign policy as in those grim years of the 1930's.

The hon. Gentleman also went on to say that one of the main things concerning my hon. Friends on this side about the recent deneutralisation of Formosa was that we were afraid that General Chiang Kai-shek's Army from the Island would inflict losses on the Communists on the mainland. What is troubling me is that General Chiang Kai-shek's military forces are so utterly incompetent that his regime will be exposed to devastating counter-attack, leading to the Island of Formosa being captured by the Communists and the whole strategic situation in the Far East being changed. The danger of a war of intervention is a very serious one. It is out of that kind of situation that we see the dangers of this grave action come to their fruition.

In the course of the debate we have had many revealing statements from hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have felt very sorry for the Foreign Secretary during the debate. I can readily understand how he was a changed man when he came here today after the statement he made on Tuesday. He is probably going in for the jargon of Foreign Secretaries in modern times and will soon talk about being stabbed in the back as well. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law) was asked by one of my hon. Friends whether he supported the statement by the Foreign Secretary. I have never heard such dishwatery, luke warm, miserable support for any Foreign Secretary from the benches opposite as the right hon. Gentleman gave in a qualified, half-hearted fashion this evening.

The hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) was a downright opponent of the Foreign Secretary. In the main thesis of his argument he went much further than the hon. Member for Reading, North. The hon. Member for Farnham said that we must not be beastly, tactless or bad-mannered to the Americans. All those phrases came into his remarks. None of us wants to be anti-American. All of us recognise the great generous qualities of the American people, and we all respect them, but, honestly, listening to statements such as the hon. Member for Farnham uttered today makes any self-respecting Britisher want to vomit. It makes one think that the hon. Member for Farnham wants to turn the House of Commons into not the forum of the British people but a kind of temple of prayer, in which to thank the Americans for all they have done and to offer obeisance to every kind of action which they may initiate.

The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) was equally interesting in his remarks. He wanted to withdraw the forces from Korea so that we could widen the war. He made a very sincere, frank and honest speech. He showed how wise many of us were during the last General Election when we said that a vote in that election might mean peace or war. When it comes down to practical issues, many hon. Gentlemen opposite are only too ready to find their solution in advocating a widening of the war. Throughout the course of the debate, apart from the speech of the Foreign Secretary, there has not been a single constructive proposal from the benches behind him which in any way diminishes the risk of war, and many of the proposals would increase the risks of war.

The speech of the Foreign Secretary was equally revealing. The right hon. Gentleman came here on Tuesday with a forthright declaration of protest against the American action. I believe that he received the support in that respect of hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House. I hoped he had done so; I gave the party opposite the benefit of the doubt. Certainly my hon. Friends withheld any consideration of putting down a Motion for this debate because they felt that the right hon. Gentleman's statement on Tuesday afternoon was one which we could all approve, and, therefore, the debate has taken place on the Motion for the Adjournment.

But the Foreign Secretary came here today a changed man. Some might say that that was because he had been talking to Mr. Dulles. Others might say that he had been stabbed in the back by hon. Gentlemen behind him. Whatever it was, he was a changed man, and the speech which we heard today was in a totally different tone of voice and had a totally different content in many respects from the statement which he delivered on Tuesday. The right hon. Gentleman was on Tuesday a pro-consul of what I believe to be the British feeling in this respect, the grave concern existing in this country, but today he came here as a kind of political clothes horse for the American Caligula and defended the actions of the American Government in a manner which was almost equal to the defence Sir John Simon gave of the Japanese aggression in Manchuria. No American could have done it better.

I do not wish in any way to attack the American people. I believe there is a good deal more in the concern which exists in America than the hon. Member for Reading, North has led us to believe. In a letter in today's "Manchester Guardian," which is also printed in to. day's "News Chronicle," Mr. Geralt Bailey, who has also just returned front the United States, having been at the United Nations as a Quaker observer, says: Nevertheless, anxiety about the possible implications and consequences of this change of policy which has been generally forecast as a possibility is, I believe, hardly less widespread in the United States than it is in this country. He goes on to say: It is necessary that Government and public opinion in this country should emphatically endorse and maintain the warning as to the dangers of the recent American decision expressed in responsible comment in Parliament and in the Press. In many ways Mr. Bailey's letter gives one some idea of the fact that there are two Americas, the America of the ordinary people and the America of the politicians, the Press, the radio and the publicists.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

I did not say that while I was there the American people as a whole approved of this specific step in policy, if only for the good reason that it had not then occurred. I said that the mass of the American people were in favour of some fresh initiative to end the present impasse.

Mr. Donnelly

The hon. Member said that there was a stalemate and that some fresh initiative was wanted. This is, I presume, the kind of initiative that might have been expected. Does the hon. Member believe that this kind of thing will solve the Korean war? Does he really imagine it will do anything practical to help to solve the problem of bringing the boys back from Korea?

Sir Albert Braithwaite (Harrow, West)

When one is fighting a war and has a supreme commander who advises certain things, one has to get on with the war or else get out of it.

Mr. Donnelly

The hon. Gentleman should be making the speech for the Foreign Secretary. Here is another vote of censure on the Foreign Secretary. Here is another of the stabbers in the back, another of those who disapproved totally of what the Foreign Secretary said last Tuesday. It is becoming clearer and clearer why the Foreign Secretary has had a Jekyll and Hyde personality during the course of the negotiations. He has not the support of the party behind him on the issue and has to depend entirely for his support in this grave situation on these benches and my hon. Friends in the Labour Party. It is a critical situation to which the country is reduced when, for some backbone, the British Tory Foreign Secretary has to come to the Labour Party for support.

During the autumn I had an opportunity of going to China for a short time. I am one of the few hon. Members of this House who have had an opportunity of meeting face to face members of the Central Chinese Peoples Government and discussing with them some of the issues before us today. I do not want anybody to have the idea that I am pretending that I know all about China after my short visit. Too many people are all too ready to give travelogue talks about a country and pretend that they know all the answers after a short visit. I do not pretend that the conversations which I had with the members of the Chinese Government were in any way conclusive or that the evidence which I can give the House is in any way conclusive, but my facts are relevant to the discussion and the solution of the Far Eastern problem and we should bear them in mind.

First, there is the nature of the Communist régime in China and its stability. Is it going to be permanent or is this a passing phase? This is very important. There has been a good deal of loose talk and there is a great deal of misunderstanding in this country and in the United States of America. In "The Times" today the New York correspondent says: Some indication of current American thinking about Formosa emerges today from a report in 'Newsweek' by Major-General William Chase, head of the American military mission to the Chinese Nationalist forces, who advances their belief that, if they could maintain a beach-head on the mainland for six or seven months, the rest of China would rally round them because of the discontent with the Communist régime. There is a hope amongst many people who are totally opposed to Communism that it may be possible to foster some kind of counter-revolution with Chiang Kai-shek at its head. It is important for us to examine this point, because it is important for us to be under no illusions about it. The basis of the Chinese Communist revolution is different from that of most Communist revolutions which have taken place. As opposed to many other revolutions which have taken place in many parts of the world, this is an agrarian revolution. The history of the Chinese Communist Party shows that.

There was a break in 1927. Mao Tse-tung was in disgrace because he said, "In this country of 400 million peasants it will be a rural revolution or none at all, and it is no good preaching the concept of an industrial revolution, because there is no industrial proletariat to lead it." Mao Tse-tung had to go back to the village; he is an indigenous product of the village. He is the son of a peasant farmer. In the villages he started a system of land reform; he emptied out all the landlords and re-distributed all the land. It is very important, in a consideration of the future of the Chinese Communists, to remember that the average holding of a Chinese peasant under Chiang Kai-shek was one-ninth of an acre. From that one-ninth of an acre the peasant lived or died; he battled with the vagaries of nature and the vicissitudes of storm or wind or drought. The border-line between life and death was very narrow indeed. Hon. Members will see, therefore, that land reform was a vital political question.

The effect of the re-distribution of land and the emptying out of the landlords was to increase that holding to an average of about one-third of an acre today—to treble that holding from the previous one-ninth of an acre. To us, one-third of an acre seems very small indeed, but to those people it was an enormous change in their whole life. It made a difference between existing, on the one hand, between the border line of life and death and, on the other hand, the possibility of security.

When he heard of these land reforms, Chiang Kai-shek sent his troops to drive Mao Tse-tung backwards and to reinstate the landlords. Mao Tse-tung accordingly entered another village and undertook the same kind of reform. This went on over 20 years, and the effect was that every time Mao Tse-tung retreated, and every time Chiang Kai-shek came forward and reinstated the landlords, Chiang Kai-shek was creating behind himself the seeds of his own destruction. People who had once seen the opportunity of a decent life, and now had that denied them, lived in the nostalgic memories of the days when Mao Tse-tung gave them a little more land.

The effect was that when Chiang Kai-shek's regime started to fall after the Japanese war, its fall was swift and rapid, because there was scarcely a friend for him in the Chinese villages. The effect has been to create 400 million people with a vested interest in the retention of this Communist society, with a vested interest in seeing that Chiang Kai-shek never returns. That must make us realise the utter impossibility of building any hope of mounting a counterrevolution against the Peking Government by putting Chiang Kai-shek in the field.

In addition, there are many other considerations. There was the total corruption of the Kuomintang regime. It is difficult to give in the House tonight examples of the utter loathing, the complete degradation, which was left behind by the Kuomintang regime when they fled with their gold ingots and loot to Formosa-the last of the mandarins to leave China. It was one of the great flights of history. The Kuomintang regime left behind a memory which will never be erased in the minds of the Chinese people. The regime has created a welter of hatred which means that every self-respecting Chinese, no matter what it costs him, would rather see a Communist regime than have Chiang Kai-shek back.

The Foreign Secretary spoke this afternoon about understanding how the Americans feel. I entirely agree with him; we must understand how the Americans feel. But if we are to find any solution to this problem, we must also understand how the Chinese feel, Would any self-respecting Member of this House, if he were a Chinese, imagine that he would be anything other than degraded by having a representative of the Kuomintang regime speaking for China in the United Nations? Does any hon. Member imagine that the Chinese feel other than a profound contempt for a society which can go on bolstering up this kind of regime?

I remember visiting one jail in Peking, and almost the first question which we asked—certainly it was one in which I at any rate was interested—was, "How many people in this jail are political prisoners?" The Governor replied, to our surprise, that 70 per cent. of them were political prisoners. We said, "That is rather extraordinary. What about the other 30 per cent.? "He said, "They are ordinary prisoners—larceny and things like that." We then asked, "What about the 70 per cent. who are political prisoners? Of what kind of crime are they guilty?" He replied, "Rape and things like that." I said, "That is rather an extraordinary crime for politicians. We do not imagine it in the West." He said, "You do not understand. That is the kind of crowd which the Kuomintang were." That is the kind of impression which they have left behind in China. I do not ask hon. Members simply to accept my word. I ask them to turn to the papers of the United States Department of State on the relations of the United States with China. It is one of the responsible reports on the state of affairs in Formosa, and this is what it says: During his Mission to China, General Wedemeyer on 17th August, 1947, reported to the Secretary of State as follows: Our experience in Formosa is most enlightening. The administration of the former Governor Chen Yi has alienated the people from the Central Government. By that he meant the Chiang Kai-shek Government.

Many were forced to feel that conditions under autocratic rule were preferable. The Central Government lost a fine opportunity to indicate to the Chinese people and to the world at large its capability to provide honest and efficient administration. They cannot attribute their failure to the activities of the Communists or dissident elements. The people anticipated sincerely and enthusiastically deliverance from the Japanese yoke. However, Chen Yi and his henchmen ruthlessly, corruptly and avariciously imposed their regime upon a happy and amenable population. The Army conducted themselves as conquerors. Secret police operated freely to intimidate and to facilitate exploitation by Central Government officials. This is the regime of the great champion of democracy whom the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite) thinks is the kind of person who might be able to help us in the dilemma in the Far East.

Sir A. Braithwaite

With his great knowledge of China, would my hon. Friend tell us why the Chinese have interested themselves in the suppression of the South Koreans?

Mr. Donnelly

The hon. Gentleman calls me his bon. Friend. I hate to disillusion him. He wants to know why the Chinese decided to suppress South Korea. I do not think they have ever considered such a suppression. I put the point about the Korean War to members of the Central Government, and one of them made a most interesting admission to me. He did not say that the South had invaded the North or use any such Communist propaganda as that. What he said to me was, I thought, very revealing. I do not want to over-emphasise it because he spoke only fairly good English and he may not have been absolutely clear, but I think he knew what he was saying all right.

This is what he said: "We have had a civil war in China and we have had a revolution led from the North to drive out Chaing Kai-shek in the South. We regard Syngman Rhee as the local Chiang Kai-shek there. Korea is one country." I asked, "What about the 38th Parallel?" He said, "That is a lot of nonsense thought up by the United Nations. It has nothing to do with Korea." Those of us who know Ireland know what they think about the border in that country.

I think the Korean affair was looked upon by those people as an internal revolution. They thought that by their evacuation the Americans had given them the green light. They thought they would be able to go in and empty out Syngman Rhee. I was one of those who supported my right hon. Friend the former Prime Minister when he initiated the action of entering the Korean War, and I supported United Nations action at that time. I entirely agree with the necessity for the maintenance of collective security, but I think it is important in this sort of thing to try to understand the frame of mind which operated and the misconceptions which existed in those countries where the troubles started.

In addition to all that, and in addition to the second factor—the corruptness of the Kuomintang regime—let us not under-estimate the extreme competence of this new Chinese Communist regime. I did not see the Russian Revolution, and I have not got any clear ideas of what went on in its early stages. But as to the Chinese revolution, whatever propaganda we were subject to and however much they may have guided us during our visit there, there can be no question but that if half of what they told us was complete propaganda, nothing could hide the extreme feeling of liberation, energy, drive and motive power which this new revolution has given to the people of China.

It is to be seen in the streets. One finds little groups of people on the doorsteps of shops learning to read and write. People have discussion groups outside their working places at lunch time, and in an effort to fit themselves with a new technical skill, they go to technical schools at 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning. This new drive exists in China in the honeymoon stage of this regime. That very relevant, dynamic human factor is going to have an important effect on events in the Far East.

I would say to hon. Members in all parts of the House that we cannot overestimate the importance of what has happened in China in the last four or five years. When I came back I was having a discussion with the foreign editor of a most responsible and sober newspaper which lends distinction to journalism in this country. I remember him saying to me, "Do you consider the Chinese Revolution as the most significant event that has happened in human history for over 2,000 years?" I thought that that was far too sweeping a statement, and I said I could not subscribe to it. Then he asked me, "Do you think it more significant than the Russian Revolution of 1917?" and I replied, "I believe it is as significant."

China is a country of nearly 500 million people with its population growing by 10 million a year, according to what the Minister of the Interior told me. It is beginning a new industrial revolution, and the basis of that revolution will to some extent be determined by whether the new China turns inwards and becomes entirely dependent on Soviet Russia for machine tools and engineering supplies of all kinds, or whether trade with the West is developed. The Chinese industrial revolution will come sooner or later, and the important thing to see is whether China becomes dependent on Soviet Russia and whether the same mistakes, referred to earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) that were made by the Tory Government of the time towards Soviet Russia will be repeated towards the Peking Government of today.

The surest way of digging our own graves in the Far East is to follow a policy which drives Communist China inwards towards Soviet Russia, cuts her off from the West, and makes her embittered and filled with a feeling of hatred towards the ordinary people of the Western nations who would like to be friendly with the Chinese. The Chinese, as everyone knows who have been in contact with them, are a proud but courtly people, decent and honest, and no one can help liking them as a people whatever we may think of the politics of any particular regime.

I believe that China has something of the same part to play in the Cominform bloc during the years of the cold war that lie ahead as we in the West have to play in the Western bloc. China is the oldest civilisation in the East. She has at the present time—I do not know how long it will last—a much greater spirit of tolerance, freshness and culture than the Russians have. There is a much more responsible and sane attitude towards day-to-day affairs among the Chinese. I think they can play the same kind of restraining part that we can towards our more volatile American friends in the West. These old civilisations in East and West can play complementary parts in their respective spheres, but it can only be done if we appreciate that the present situation cannot go on indefinitely with no attempt by us to press positively for—I know we pay lukewarm lip service to the idea—the representation of China in the United Nations, because that is the fundamental corner stone to the solution of the Korean war.

We can talk about not sending any prisoners home. I am not one of those who wants to send any prisoners home against their will. I am proud of this country's reputation for giving political asylum to all those who are refugees from a political system in their own country which they do not like. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale that we should send them all home. At the same time I question very strongly whether all these people do not want to go home.

I remember with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) discussing this with a member of the Chinese Central People's Government, and we put it to him that these people did not want to go home. He made this point in reply—and I think it is worth considering and looking at from the Chinese point of view if we seek to understand their attitude—"You have seen this country and the new spirit that is abroad. Do you think that 80 per cent. of these people do not want to go home?" We replied, "Supposing 80 per cent. of it is propaganda?" He said, "All right supposing it is propaganda and if only 20 per cent. of it were true, add to that the ordinary, natural home-sickness of people who desire to return to their own homes instead of being rootless in other lands. Do you not think that the whole question of the 80 per cent. not wanting to return is extremely phony?" As I say, I find it hard to believe myself, and it is for us to get this problem on a proper footing if we are hoping for any solutions.

In addition to that we have got to face up to the dangers of the situation with which we are concerned today. The removal of the Seventh Fleet from Formosa, whatever the hon. Member for Reading, North, may say, is a kind of one-way protection. It looks as if the Americans want to have their cake and eat it at the same time. As my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East said, they are trying to put Asiatic bodies against Asiatic bodies in a war by proxy. There are dangers created for us which we must face up to as realists, and I should like to ask the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs two or three specific questions.

First of all, is Her Majesty's Government prepared to use a British Fleet to protect British shipping outside the three-mile limit in the event of war between Formosa and the mainland? That is the kind of situation that took place during the Chinese Civil War when the British Fleet was used to protect British shipping. There is a good deal of concern amongst British traders on this point. Alternatively, are we to recognise Chiang Kai-shek as a belligerent in this respect?

Secondly, my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East mentioned the removal of our Consul from Formosa and hon. Members opposite laughed. It is no laughing matter because consuls in the Far East, particularly in China, have occupied much more important positions than consuls in the ordinary diplomatic service in the West. For instance, the Consul of Shanghai was one of the big shots of the town. Indeed, he almost ran it. One of the reasons given me by the Vice-Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party why they had not agreed to exchange ambassadors with us was that this Consul still existed in Formosa, and he said that we could not have it both ways. That may be a debating point, but I think that the removal of that Consul from Formosa now, regardless of what the Chinese Peking Government might think about him, would be a good expression of our attitude towards the Chiang Kai-shek régime if we really do mean that we have withdrawn recognition from that Government.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nuffing)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Donnelly

The Under-Secretary shakes his head, but I would ask him to reconsider this matter because it is extremely important.

Thirdly—and this is really the crux of the thing—I would repeat again the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton (Mr. Wyatt) as to what will happen if Chiang Kai-shek first of all finds himself in a losing war in Formosa and then the Americans get themselves involved. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said he believed he spoke for the British people when we said that we were not prepared to support Chiang Kai-shek in such a situation.

I believe my right hon. Friend did speak for the British nation, and I warn the Under-Secretary of State and hon. Gentlemen opposite that when they get the views of their constituents they may find a rude awakening in store for them. I am a great believer in the week-end. Let hon. Members opposite have a word with the local stationmaster when they are visiting their constituencies this week-end and see what he is thinking about. What happens in that position, I tell the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is the crux of this matter.

Having said that, I apologise to the House for having spoken for so long. Let me say one final, personal word in conclusion. I think it is important, and that I am entitled to make this personal explanation. I see, at the end of this present road, a steadily steepening slope, nothing but war in the situation as it is now. I see also the destruction of all the heritages of freedom and the rich treasures of the past that we have accumulated in this land. I am not one to shrink from the supreme sacrifice if this island were ever threatened. I have just the same passionate love for Britain as anybody else has, whether it is for the grey stone of Cotswold villages like Burford with the mill garden at the bottom of the hill or for the colour- washed cottages of my own county in Wales. They are just as dear to me now as the Marlborough downs were to Hilton Young.

Nevertheless, if we are to do the best by the people of our own country we have to exercise a sense of responsibility. Let us defend our country with all our might against anybody who dares to set an unwanted and unwelcome foot on this island, but at the same time let us exercise a sense of responsibility. We have to think not only of the immediate situation but of the situation in the world in 20 or 30 years. We are going to be darned lucky to stay alive for that period.

7.52 p.m.

Mr. Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Heeley)

Listening to the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), I could not help feeling that he must have imbibed a very great deal of the views impressed upon him by the Communists he visited. I only hope that in return he tried to push some of our ideas into the Communist leaders he met.

Mr. Donnelly

I certainly did.

Mr. Roberts

I noticed that he mentioned the question of British prisoners, who have had such a difficult time in the prisons which the hon. Gentleman visited. If ever a Communist revolution came to this country history shows that the hon. Member and those like him would be emptied out—I think that is the expression which is used—with the landlords and the rest.

Mr. Donnelly

So would we all.

Mr. Roberts

I want to come a little more nearly to the cause and effect of the present debate, and I want to ask a few questions about consultation. In opening the debate, the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) referred to the debate that we had over the bombing of the power stations on the Yalu River. At that time, the Opposition were complaining that the action was taken without any knowledge by Her Majesty's Government. This time at least there was consultation, in that previous information was given to Her Majesty's Government before the action took place.

I should have thought that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on that side would think that there had been an advance in the relationships in connection with consultation between the two Governments, but I have not heard one word yet from the other side of the House to show that hon. Gentlemen realise that there has been an advance.

The second point is that the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) seemed to think that the only sort of consultation which he could accept is that in which the views he expressed were accepted by the other side. That is a queer way to look upon consultation. All that one can expect if one is in consultation is that views should be expressed by one side and the other.

Let us look at the views expressed by Her Majesty's Government to see how much they would weigh with the American Government. I was very pleased to hear my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary describe the views of the American Government. Whatever one says in this debate, it must be accepted that the placing of the Fleet between Formosa and China was unilateral action taken by the Americans in the first place. Secondly, the American Seventh Fleet has been carrying out those operations until now.

When one talks of consultation, and when the subject of the consultation is action by a Fleet of the American Government, it is very difficult for me to see how we can press our point very effectively unless we are prepared to say that the matter is of such great importance that we will send some of our naval forces to join the American naval forces in the task that we are asking them to carry out. No hon. or right hon. Gentleman would be prepared to say that the Americans should carry on this operation with their Fleet unless they are equally prepared to say that if necessary we must send our Fleet as well.

Mr. S. Silverman

We do not want to misunderstand the argument. If the Americans were saying they were going to restore the status quo and were not going to interfere between Formosa and China but were going to leave the position as it was before, that would be one thing. The danger in the present situation is that they are not going to do that, but are going to prevent attacks one way and facilitate them the other.

Mr. Roberts

I shall come to that point later on in my speech. I have not misunderstood the argument which is perfectly clear on the face of it. If we are to try to press the American Government to maintain their Fleet there and use their men, money and materials in doing something, we cannot expect to have very great weight with them unless we are prepared to say: "We will help you in this matter." I do not believe it is right for us to ask any members of our Fleet to take up those duties, and I have not heard one hon. Member suggest this except that the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), when I put a question to him, said that he was prepared to go that length. I certainly would not.

Where Her Majesty's Government can make representations—I have never yet heard from this side of the House that it was a protest; the word "protest" has only come from the other side of the House—I do not think we can carry those representations to any length unless we are prepared to say: "We shall send our own ships as well," and I am not prepared to say that. We have expressed concern, and that is a very different thing from a protest.

Let me come to the argument that we have had addressed to the House about repercussions and the widening of the conflict. We had a wild and extravagant speech from the hon. Member for Coventry, East and to some extent it was followed by the speech of the hon. Member for Pembroke. In that speech it was assumed that action of a firm kind would be followed by great and serious repercussions and a widening of the war. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have for a year and a half persistently given that type of warning, and they have persistently been wrong. It has usually been shown that where a firm line is taken the Communists recoil and they in some ways retreat. Where there has been a weak line and appeasement, they have accepted that and gone on further.

I now want to refer to something said by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) on the bombing of the Yalu power stations. I am glad to see the hon. Gentleman in his place and I should like to hear what he feels about it now. On 1st July, 1952, in column 296 of the OFFICIAL REPORT he referred to the bombing of the Yalu power station and spoke of the grave repercussions which might follow. He said that this was a new policy with grave political implications and it was a fact that would lead to the gravest dangers. I believe that events have proved him wrong.

Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)

If the hon. Gentleman will do me the justice of reading the rest of my speech, he will discover that I also said that the possibility of a new war not flaring up in Korea partly depended on whether the Chinese would be reticent in replying to that action.

Mr. Roberts

I have the speech here and the general tenor of it was that the hon. Gentleman was frightened that there would be a widening of the conflict. I believe that facts have shown, no doubt as he said in his speech, that it depended upon the Communist reaction. My suggestion is that throughout the Communists react to a firm line by not increasing the area of the conflict.

Mr. Donnelly

May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Roberts

I really must get on with my speech. The hon. Gentleman took a long time. Again, it was suggested that we should withdraw to the 38th Parallel in order to assist the Communists to come to some kind of peace.

Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)

Your own Foreign Secretary recommended it.

Mr. Roberts

No, this time it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who was supported by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). In that argument, which no doubt he will remember, the hon. Gentleman produced a document which he said was a document of the United Nations.

Mr. S. Silverman

I did?

Mr. Roberts

Yes. The hon. Member said that the Chinese Government were protecting the power stations in the area which the United Nations itself have said it would not attack."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June, 1952; Vol. 502, c. 2300.] At the end of that debate, as I am sure hon. Members will remember, it was shown that the resolution in question was one which was vetoed by the Soviet delegation and was in fact a draft resolution. Again, the whole tenor of that argument was wrong, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the left wing of the party opposite have been consistently wrong in the arguments which they have put forward over the last two or three years.

I want to put to the House only one more argument used by hon. Gentlemen and that is that we should not take a strong line over prisoners on Koje Island. At that time the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) produced a document which he said was a report by the International Red Cross. According to the OFFICIAL REPORT of 6th November, 1952, in column 327, he referred to a report by the International Red Cross and said, "In this report occur these words", and later he said it was "thus reported by the Red Cross delegates." In fact, it was not a description by Red Cross delegates but by the representative of the Communist prisoners. So again hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been wrong in fact and wrong in their prognostications with regard to Far Eastern policies. I am certain also that today the hon. Member for Pembroke and the hon. Member for Coventry, East are quite wrong when they suggest that to take a firm line will widen the conflict.

We have not had any great protests and there have been no suggestions of raising the Adjournment on the Floor of the House when the Chinese Communists have attacked across the border into Indo-China or have sent secret emissaries across into Malaya or have carried on activities across the Yalu River into Korea. The only protests that come from the left wing of the Labour Party are against action by the United Nations or by America.

I shall end my few remarks with the following conclusions. I am certain that any question of appeasement of Communist aggression is wrong. I cannot agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) who suggested that we should withdraw before Communist aggression. I agree with something which the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) said, namely, that collective action against aggression must succeed. The majority of us on both sides of the House believe that.

If that is our aim and object, we cannot show the people who are watching this conflict all over the world that we are prepared to retreat in any way from taking action which is likely to bring this conflict to an end. I have tried to show tonight that, where firm action has been taken, it has resulted in getting a little nearer to an armistice and so a little nearer to peace. In fact, the result of the decision taken by the American Government has at least led to the reaction from the Communists of saying that they will open armistice negotiations on certain terms. Whether those terms are good or bad, it has at least had that result. It is not a question of widening the conflict because it has shown immediately that they will come near to the table once more.

I am confident that in dealing with aggression and aggressors the right attitude for this country, for America, and for the members of the United Nations who are fighting on our side in Korea is to take all reasonable and practical steps to show Communists and aggressors that their Communism and aggression does not pay if they take it beyond the borders of their own spheres of interest.

I believe that the present action taken by the United States Government was a right and proper action so far as they are concerned. Unless we ourselves are prepared to take over those duties, I do not believe that we should ask the Americans to do something which we are not prepared to do. I am not prepared to suggest that we should take over policing duties in those seas and so I think the Americans were right in doing what they did.

I hope sincerely that in the diplomatic field we shall move now into a period of firm action against aggression and I believe that such action will have far better and greater results than by saying, "We are terrified of widening the conflict, we must do nothing to upset Communists, we must give them what they want"—because all that will happen then is that they will demand more and more.

8.8 p.m.

Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Test)

We are so used to disagreeing in this House that when an occasion comes on which the bulk of the House is in agreement, it seems that we spend most of our time disagreeing about the way in which we agree. It appears that most of the House is behind the Foreign Secretary in the concern he has expressed to the House, in the concern which we understand has been expressed to Mr. Acheson, and in the concern which we believe the Prime Minister has expressed across the water over the recent proposed actions and now the action of the United States Government—

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)

How does my hon. Friend know that?

Dr. King

At any rate I am certain that outside this House the country is alarmed at the recent developments and wishes to express its concern and make strong protest. I feel as much in support of the Foreign Secretary in the action he has taken as I did over the action which he took recently in Germany in arresting some of the leading Nazis. The two are not unconnected, because at least one of the objections to Chiang Kai-shek is the kind of government that he perpetrated in China and the kind of government which he set up, under our protection, in Formosa.

I speak with considerable hesitation, certainly as a maiden speaker in a foreign affairs debate, and not as an expert but as a very simple back bencher.

Mr. J. Hudson

There is no need for any apology.

Dr. King

There are two things that we must remember. First, Formosa belongs to the Chinese and was awarded to them at the end of the last war, and sooner or later in world history it must come back to China. There is no question that throughout the long negotiations that we have had in attempts to make peace with China, the Chinese have consistently asserted with tremendous force and emotion the question of the return to them of Formosa. This American action, therefore, must do very much to exacerbate feeling in China.

The second thing I would say is that I believe quite simply that it is impossible to conquer China, just as it is impossible for China to conquer the United States of America. If events should lead to an all-out war between China and the U.S.A., neither side could win; only both sides could lose. It is with these two thoughts in mind that I wish to make my remarks.

When the Foreign Secretary spoke this afternoon, he talked of the neutralisation of Formosa as though it were some kind of altruistic action taken by President Truman at the beginning of the Korean war. The simple facts are that Formosa was neutralised because we wished to protect our rear in case the Chinese should attack us in the perilous position in which we were placed on the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, Chiang Kai-shek was weak, and the interposing of a naval barrier between Formosa and China prevented cot Chiang Kai-shek from attacking the Chinese mainland, but the Chinese on the mainland from attacking Chiang Kai-shek.

So that when the United States of America de-neutralise Formosa, it is not that they are abandoning some altruistic piece of a policy which is hurtful to us in Korea by keeping a neutral balance between China and Chiang Kai-shek, but it is because—American spokesmen have openly said so—they hope that Chiang Kai-shek will now make attacks on the mainland of China. Chiang Kai-shek is now strong enough to create at least a nuisance value on the mainland.

But the first reason for protecting Formosa still exists, and if the Chinese People's Forces should counter-attack and invade Formosa, the United States would be compelled to protect its rear by defending Formosa. Therefore, what is happening as far as Formosa and its de-neutralising are concerned is something which in the nature of things must exacerbate Chinese feelings and must be regarded by the Chinese as an offensive and provocative action against China.

I listened with great interest to the Foreign Secretary in his very difficult task this afternoon. He was right, I think, to explain very generously and very sympathetically the attitude of the people of the United States of America. We have no quarrel with the ordinary people of America. I think that some of the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters who have followed him have leaned over backwards to explain America's attitude and, indeed, to support it. I believe that the whole of the ordinary people outside this country are alarmed at what is happening, but not because of any anti-American feeling.

The Foreign Secretary spoke of the great sacrifice and the great loss of life that have been incurred by the U.S.A. He told us, as we all know, that that must make the Americans very angry, very bitter and very anti-Communist; and when my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), who opened the debate, referred to the emotion of the American people, he was not doing so in any patronising way. It is not lack of sympathy with the sufferings of the American people that makes us alarmed at the action which America has taken. It is for the sake of the American people as well as of ourselves that we are alarmed at this action. We do not want the war to extend in the Far East. It is no consolation to those in America who have lost their dear ones or who have suffered if an extension of the war in the Far East brings more and more casualties to the people of America and to the rest of the world.

Very few people in the House—I doubt, indeed, whether any at all—have sympathy with the attitude which the Chinese Communists, and, indeed, the Russian Commuists, have taken over the last five years. But neither have many people in the House or in the country any sympathy with Fascism. This move of America's to support the semi-Fascist regime of Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa is as alarming to some of us as the American support of Franco Spain and the alarm that we feel at American unwillingness to realise just how Western Europe does not want to see the re-emergence in Western Germany of the Nazis that we fought the Second World War to destroy.

It is fantastic to engage in collective security on behalf of freedom and democracy and to recruit as our allies in the war to preserve the free way of life people like Franco, the ex-Nazis, and Chiang Kai-shek. I am certain that most people in the House regard Chiang Kai-shek as a doubtful ally, morally, politically and militarily. It is quite on the cards that what will happen to much of the American equipment which has been poured into Chiang Kai-shek's forces will find its way into the possession of the Chinese People's Republic, just as much of the American equipment and wealth that was poured into Chiang Kai-shek's régime when it was on the mainland found its way into the hands of the Chinese People's Republic.

Mr. J. Hudson

If these other people to whom my hon. Friend refers are to be labelled Fascists, how is it that we are so enthusiastically on the side of Syngman Rhee?

Dr. King

I have never noticed any enthusiasm from this House, nor—

Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)

Nor American enthusiasm.

Dr. King

—nor enthusiasm anywhere for Syngman Rhee. We all understand the bitterness that the American military men and the soldiers on the spot must feel at being bombed by Chinese planes, coming over from territory which for political reasons is outside the range of American attack, doing damage and then scampering back to safety.

For simple military reasons, one can understand the case for an all-out war against China, but military reasons are not the only reasons which govern the world. We have said from the beginning that so far as the Korean war is concerned, we must attempt to contain it; and we have undertaken, and the American people have attempted to undertake, to localise the Korean war, even with all the bitterness and difficulty that such a policy involves. A full scale war with the Chinese people would be far more bitter to endure and far more costly.

Again, I am quite certain that most people in this country are alarmed that spreading war further in the Far East means increasing the danger to Europe. It means increasing the danger of what everyone in the world is afraid of, a third world war. Every day without the occurrence of a third world war is a day of more opportunity to prevent one. Our task in the Korean war has been patiently to endure all kinds of bitterness, all kinds of difficulties in the hope that if we hang on to the simple issue of resisting aggression, as presented in the Korean war, we might eventually reach a settlement. We said, "We will put down aggression where it occurs." Once we go outside looking for aggressors elsewhere, we shall have begun something which is dangerously like aggression and provocation ourselves.

Some of us have been troubled because these last weeks have seemed to us the beginning of a dangerous new attitude on the part of the United States of America. The United States of America is the most powerful array of material, economic and military force that the world has ever known. It has been of tremendous assistance to the countries of Western Europe, but we have noted in recent American utterances an emergence of what we might call the waving of the big stick. We in this House should point out that Europe and ourselves are much nearer to the dangers that present themselves in Europe than Americans are. Just as they are bearing the immediate burdens of the Korean War more heavily, the countries of Western Europe are much more intimately and nearly concerned about the dangers of anything that could take place in Western Europe.

The United States, with its tremendous accumulation of materials and men and economic power, has been given the duty of leading the world in force and power. It has to learn that it can only lead free nations; it cannot drive them. If it takes unilateral action as it has done in the last few days, it jeopardises not only the right to lead the free world but the very existence of the free world. I think I am speaking on behalf of people of all political parties in my constituency when I speak as I have done this evening. I think it should go from this House that we are behind the Foreign Secretary in the concern he has expressed.

An hon. Member said that the Foreign Secretary has not made a protest; if he has not, I think the House should make a protest to the United States against the dangers of this unilateral action of theirs. We hope that the Foreign Secretary and the American Foreign Secretary and statesmen of India will not merely brush aside the latest statement of Mao Tse-tung but see if it is not possible to find in it some hope of achieving what we are wanting and what the whole world is wanting, peace in Korea and a new attitude to world problems altogether.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)

I am sure that none of us would disagree with the last sentence of the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr. King), but I feel that few of us on this side of the House would agree with most of what he said. What is always a matter of some astonishment to us on this side of the House is to see the way the party opposite have of branding some individual or country as Fascist and of saying that we should in no circumstances have anything to do with them. Not only do they suggest that we should not have a diplomatic representative there, but even that we should withdraw our consular representative who is there to protect the interests of our nation.

The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) invited us not to cut China off from the West. Who has cut China off from the West? Surely it is China's own action which has done so.

Mr. S. Silverman


Mr. Macpherson

I will give way to the hon. Member, but surely he will allow me to develop this point. It is China's own action. Even after we had recognised China, instead of reciprocating she did everything in her power to alienate this country. She has not only taken away all our interests in that country, she has not only persecuted our nationals in that country but has then proceeded to attack our nationals and other members of the United Nations in Korea. Surely it cannot for one instant be said that it is we or America who have cut China off from the West.

Mr. Silverman

I think the hon. Gentleman has forgotten the facts. Before any of the events of which he rightly complains took place, before any Chinese intervention and before any developments in China such as he described, the Indians made a proposal for discussions and settlement of the whole matter in June or July, 1950. We supported those proposals before there had been any real loss of life or intervention by China. Those negotiations broke down because, and only because, the United States of America refused to discuss them with the representatives of the Chinese Government, which they did not wish to recognise. We all heard Mr. Acheson tell a private meeting of the House of Commons downstairs that the United States would not in any foreseeable future recognise the Chinese Government. In those circumstances it is a little hard to say that the Chinese cut themselves off from the West.

Mr. Macpherson

Of course that is one point of view. But our recognition of China at least gave a chance of China being linked again with the West in some way or another, and China has gone out of her way to throw away that chance. Fortunately, it is not for us to make comparisons between Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung. I think that most of us would say that such comparisons would be odious.

But, as my right hon. Friend said, it is for us to consider the point of view of the United States. Surely there are two factors in that. The first is that the United States must herself be the judge of her own strategic necessities for the protection of her own country; and, rightly or wrongly, she considers that it is vital for her that Formosa should not be in hostile hands.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

What about the United Nations?

Mr. Macpherson

The other factor is that it quite plainly nonsensical to protect the Chinese Communists from anybody at all, even from the Russians, as long as they are attacking our own troops. These are two quite self-evident propositions and it is difficult to contest them in any way whatsoever.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that the Americans placed the Seventh Fleet there unilaterally and that they are withdrawing it unilaterally. There is a difference of opinion as to whether it is desirable for them to withdraw it or not. One of the curiosities of this debate has been that while my right hon. Friend stated what seemed to be the views of the United States in this matter—as to why the fleet should be withdrawn—he did not tell the House very clearly why he and his right hon. Friends have differed from that point of view. I hope that when he winds up the debate the Minister of State will tell the House why his right hon. Friend had a different point of view on this matter.

It is, of course, right that if there is a difference of view it should be expressed and that that difference should be recorded. Only on Tuesday my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, dealing with the differences of opinion at the Commonwealth Economic Conference, said that it was a good thing to record differences. He said: If at a Conference we happen not to agree about something and we are friends about it, I do not see why we should not set down the fact that we do not agree."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1953; Vol. 510, c. 1796.] That is what he has done in this case, but he has not made a protest about it.

There is an aspect of this matter which I do not think we should disregard, and that is the interests of our French allies, which are not very far away from our own. It is frequently said that if Indo-China falls then it will be difficult to hold Malaya. [An HON. MEMBER: "And Siam."] That being so, let us consider the situation. In Korea, in the north, armaments were piling up and the weight of battle was being built up at the same time as our talks were going on. In Indo-China in the south there was this tremendous burden falling upon the French and the Vietnamese people. In between, one had a kind of peace being maintained by the Seventh Fleet.

It is quite plain from the statement that has been made that protection for the mainland is being, withdrawn whereas protection for Formosa is being maintained. Let us consider the implications of that to Indo-China. It seems fairly clear that the Chinese will go on supplying arms to the Viet Minh in Indo-China, and if they see that the Viet Minh are losing out there they will probably supply full military assistance as well. Can it be denied that if there is a risk of invasion from Formosa they will be less likely to supply full military assistance in Indo-China? I believe that in those circumstances they will think twice about it.

Can we say that that is not in the interest of ourselves and our allies? I hope that when he winds up the debate the Minister of State will deal with this matter and will let us know what the attitude of our French allies is towards it, because there is no doubt that we have to move very closely together with the French if we are to hold the position of civilisation in the Far East. Surely our first task must be, by the weight of our prestige and the prestige of the United Nations, by the willpower they show to stand up for their common rights and interests, to restore peace in the Far East both in Indo-China and in Korea, and I believe in Malaya as well.

8.35 p.m.

Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)

Sometimes today and previously we have heard criticisms of the lack of balance in the American people. I am beginning to wonder whether perhaps we are so very balanced ourselves. On Tuesday there was an enormous state of excitement in the House and a demand for an immediate debate on this subject. On Thursday we have the debate, and there is hardly anybody here. If that is being balanced, perhaps we had better try being a little unbalanced.

I should like to examine, first of all, what has happened in Formosa. What has really happened has been that whereas in June, 1950, President Truman, at the outset of the North Korean aggression on South Korea, said that he proposed to de-neutralise Formosa altogether so that it might not become a casus belli and thereby lead to an extension of the war—and this he did by the interposition of the United States Seventh Fleet—the Seventh Fleet has now partially lifted the de-neutralisation against one side only. It has lifted it against the Chinese Communists attacking Formosa, but not against Chiang Kai-shek attacking the mainland.

During the period since President Truman's action, the Americans have had a military mission on Formosa. They have been arming and supplying Chiang Kai-shek's troops, and there is undoubtedly a very large Nationalist army on Formosa today—perhaps nearly half a million men. We do not know about the morale of those troops, but by this time they must be fairly well armed.

It is true that over the last year there have been minor raids taking place on the coast of China all the time, and the United States Seventh Fleet, in denial of the policy of the American Government, has been doing nothing to stop them. But now this announcement in a Presidential statement has given a new twist and turn to these past actions. It is altogether different to have a situation in which minor raids are taking place under cover without any official sanction, and to have a Presidential announcement stating that from now on there will be no attempt whatever to restrain Chiang Kai-shek in any activities he may undertake.

Why has President Eisenhower done this? I think he has done it because of the course of the American General Election. Like the party opposite when in opposition, he made promises which he found a little inconvenient when he came into power. I think that he thought this was the least damaging thing he could do to go some way towards satisfying what is really a very extreme Republican point of view of various things which might be done to end the Korean war.

I think he looked around and said, "This is the least damaging thing I can do. It is only going a little further beyond what is already happening. Maybe this will quieten down Senator McCarthy, Senator Jenner and all those other annoying people, and they will think that some dramatic new action is going to be taken." I am afraid that that will be a fulfilment of a promise which will not in the long run satisfy the American people. But I think we had better leave President Eisenhower to deal with that aspect of the situation when he comes to it. It is not our business to help him over that particular stile.

Unfortunately, this action will not do anything towards bringing the end of the war in Korea closer. I think this is the reason the British Government have been rightly concerned about it. It is going to be an enormous problem to try to bring the Korean war to a total end, because even after the prisoner question has been settled, supposing that can be sorted out, we shall still have to get a peace treaty for Korea. We shall still have to arrange the new government of North and South Korea and decide what is to be its future. This negotiation can drag on for years. We cannot take away the troops while it is going on. The Americans cannot take away theirs.

It is bound to be seen by the Communists as a part of the general settlement of all Far Eastern questions, and it will be seen by us in that way. The French will want to be assured in the negotiations for the peace treaty in Korea that it will not mean any assistance from the Chinese Communists to the Ho-chi-Minh forces in Indo-China. All those things have to be settled, and it will take a very long time.

This action of Mr. Eisenhower is not big enough to make a military success of the affair or to bring the war militarily to an end; but it is big enough to bring in its train a number of very serious dangers. When I recount some of these dangers, I do not do it out of any sympathy with the Chinese Communists. I have no sympathy whatever with them. I do not think they have had any justification for any of their actions from start to finish. There was no justification for their original entry into the Korean war on the side of the North Korean aggressors.

But we must be aware of the climate of opinion in South-East Asia. There are about 600 million people there who, although we might feel they are very misguided, have not made up their minds finally as to which side in the Cold War they prefer. They have not come to a final conclusion whether Russia or America and Britain would be the better side to support. The main reason is that they can remember quite vividly the occupation of their countries by Britain, France and Holland in very recent years. They have never experienced Chinese Communist or Russian Communist occupation. It may be that their fears are very foolish, but they are acutely supsicious of any actions taken by the West.

There are many people who are only too anxious to say that the real interest America has in Asia is not to support the United Nations in resisting aggression in Korea but to restore a discredited régime in China. The people who want to argue in that way have been handed quite gratuitously an enormous supply of ammunition by this action of Mr. Eisenhower. They say at once, "There you are; we told you so. All they want to do is to put Chaing Kai-shek back in Pekin. They are not interested in all those fine words about resisting aggression in Korea."

The second point is that, although those who claim that the United Nations have been fighting a war with one hand tied behind their backs up to now may be partially right, nevertheless the Chinese have also been fighting the war with one hand tied behind their backs. They have confined their activities to Korea up till now, as have the United Nations. What I fear is that as a result of this action the Chinese may be inclined to say to themselves, "If the Americans can support Chiang Kai-shek in sending fair-sized forces in an attempt to make bridgeheads on our coast, we can do things the other way round." They may say, "Let us send troops as well as arms to Ho-Chi-Minh and the Viet-Minh forces in Indo-China."

This is the very grave danger which I am sure the Foreign Secretary must have had in mind when he was making his representations to America. It would be a calamity if Indo-China were to fall into the hands of the Chinese Communists as a result of this not very militarily profitable action of releasing Chiang Kai-shek on to the mainland of China. There is also the danger that they may be tempted to send support—as they have not done up till now—to the Chinese bandits in Malaya, and they may begin to feel that national prestige or pride requires some interference with Hong Kong.

The next danger which flows from this action is that at some point there may be a sufficiently large attack on the coast of China from Chiang Kai-shek to provoke the Chinese Communists into retaliating on Formosa itself. In this debate we have heard a great deal about the possibilities of Chiang Kai-shek attacking the mainland of China; but what is to happen if the Chinese Communists attack Formosa in some strength?

It may be said that they would not do such a foolish thing because the forces against them would be so heavy; but we are not dealing with people who think things out rationally and logically. They may be tempted to do such a thing out of national prestige and pride and for all sorts of reasons which have made them very difficult to deal with in the past. I do not think it worries the Chinese if they lost 50,000 lives in such an action. But it would worry the whole world if we had a situation in which there was a direct conflict between the Chinese Communists and the Americans on Formosa which might lead to something very much wider in which the whole world would become embroiled.

Now I come to what I conceive to be the greatest danger which flows from this action. I think the other dangers are considerable enough and were sufficient ground for us to hope that this action would never be taken in the first place, but this is the greatest of all—the threat which is implied in it to the harmony of Anglo-American relations, and not only Anglo-American relations but relations between America and the South-East Asian countries and the European countries, too.

This afternoon we have heard many pieces of advice on how we should speak to America—ways in which to talk to the Americans to get them to do what we want. The right hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law) recommended that we should speak to them in soft and friendly terms; be pleasant, amiable and agreeable, and this, he said, would produce the desired results. My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) wanted us to be angry with them because he thought that would stimulate them. He wanted us to take our consuls from Formosa. I could imagine a shudder of horror running from North to South America when the word went round that British consuls in Formosa had been withdrawn, and I can see an instant deflection of American policy to bring it into line with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East.

Some have recommended anger, violence, some decisive and dramatic action. Others prefer to rely on platitudes about the great alliance, the basic friendship between America and Britain, our common ancestors and all that kind of thing. But the trouble is that all those who have been giving this advice this afternoon have forgotten, or do not seem to realise, that at the moment nobody in America is listening to what we say anyway. There is complete indifference to what we say. They do not mind in the least bit what remarks are made in the House of Commons today about their policy towards Formosa. In any case they will not change it; they have decided upon it.

The most depressing thing which I found when I was in America recently was the general indifference to the views of Britain on any subject whatever to do with foreign policy. This may not be so among the officials and among the persons with whom the Foreign Secretary or the Chancellor of the Exchequer have to deal, but it certainly infuses a very great part of American opinion and life today. They regard us as being of no account in these matters—

Mr. Ellis Smith

We could reciprocate.

Mr. Wyatt

I dare say, but it would not get us anywhere. The problem which we have to face today is how we are to make the Anglo-American alliance work —how we are to make it work as a partnership, given, first of all, that it is fundamental to our survival as a nation, quite apart from the fact that it is fundamental to the survival of the whole free world, and given, also, the fact that at the moment there is a complete indifference in America towards our views on all these matters.

I should say that the first thing we must do in this House is to speak together when we have something to say to America—to speak as one voice when something of this nature has happened about which we all feel deeply. I feel that today the House has missed a great opportunity. That is why this has been not only a rather boring debate, in which the Chamber has been almost empty most of the time, but it has been a very disappointing debate, because a great opportunity has been missed.

When the Foreign Secretary made his statement on Tuesday, I think anybody sitting in the Gallery—any ambassador or any newspaper reporter—would have sensed that there was a unity of feeling in the House; there was a great concern, a general feeling that the Foreign Secretary was right in the attitude which he has adopted and a feeling of support for him.

What has happened today? First of all —and I hope he will not mind my saying this—the Foreign Secretary spent rather a lot of time in putting to us the American feelings on this matter. I sympathise with that because we tend to forget them; we tend to forget the enormous rate of casualties which they have suffered and the fact that they are carrying 90 per cent. of the burden. But the right hon. Gentleman spent rather too little time in explaining to us why he disagreed with their action. There was too much time spent in justifying the American action and not enough time spent in telling the House and the country why he felt, nevertheless, that that action was grievously wrong. I think that that was a bad start to the debate, a start which, perhaps, tended to give it a wrong twist.

Then we had a series of Members on the other side, one Conservative after another, not only not supporting what the Foreign Secretary had said on Tuesday, and not even not supporting what he said today, but actually saying that the Americans were right in taking the action they have taken in respect of Formosa. This really produced a cataclysmic effect on the debate. The result of this is that we have had nearly every Member on the other side saying that the Americans are right and their own Foreign Secretary wrong in making any protest about it. The only people who have consistently supported—perhaps, with a little too much vigour at times—the Foreign Secretary have been the Members of my party sitting on these benches.

Mr. Eden

The hon. Member for Coventry, East?

Mr. Wyatt

I said, with a little too much vigour at times. At any rate, we have supported the Foreign Secretary. He has been steadily deserted by his own side. There is one thing which is certain. There may be all kinds of ways of speaking to the Americans, but unless we all speak together they are not going to take any notice at all. If they think that what is said to them is said by only a small section of the people of this country, they will brush that view aside, as, indeed, they brushed aside the protests already made by the Foreign Secretary.

A thing we have to do is to consult, when an incident occurs or when an incident seems likely to occur, as rapidly as we can with the other countries of Europe. There may not be time to consult with the South-East Asian countries and the other Commonwealth countries, as well, though we should do our utmost to do so, for it is no good trying to go to Washington one by one, each registering a little protest in an envelope, saying, "We do not like what you did yesterday," because one by one the envelopes will be thrown out of the window and no notice will be taken. But if we can go as a group of nations, if we can go as a united Europe, if we can go as a representative of the Commonwealth, and of all with similar views, then we shall be able to carry far greater weight than we do singly.

Then I think we all have to face the fact that we are in a very difficult period indeed in Anglo-American relations, in which it is going to be very difficult to make the Americans listen to advice from our side of the Atlantic. I think the reason is that, whereas they acted hesitantly in the sphere of foreign affairs after the war, they now feel they have enough experience to manage on their own, and the ordinary American in the street feels he has a right to make an impact on his Government's foreign policy in a way he never did before, and the American Government are reacting to that impetus which is coming from below, and it is going to be very hard indeed for us.

I hope that the whole House will recognise that we really have not made a very good job of this debate today, and that the only way in which we are going to make an impact on American opinion is by speaking together, and not drifting away from a stand originally taken up by the Foreign Secretary.

8.53 p.m.

Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)

In the very short time which remains to me I hope that the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) will accept the very few remarks I want to make as sufficient comment on the speech we have just heard from him. I think that there is general agreement in all parts of the House, and indeed in the country, that a general war on the mainland of China would be, to use a famous phrase, "the wrong war in the wrong place and against the wrong enemy." This is not because we have any particular tenderness towards the Chinese. It is because we recognise that the fate of the world depends on what happens in Europe and the Middle East, and we know that to send our forces—and the United States forces—into China would be to drain our forces away from the defence of the West.

It is not entirely in our hands whether a war in the Far East will be avoided. It takes two to avoid a war. It is very difficult besides to say what is the best technique to avoid it. There is something to be said for a conciliatory technique. There is something to be said for a tough one. We, with the financial interests that still remain to us on the mainland of China, and with the great Colony of Hong Kong at stake, naturally tend to prefer a flexible and cautious approach. The United States, after their experiences in Korea, take a tougher line. It is a matter of judgment which is right. But now this matter of judgment has to be resolved and a decision has to be taken. How is that to be done?

We cannot run military campaigns, or direct a global struggle like this hot and cold war which we are waging throughout the world, by unanimous decisions. In the long run somebody has to decide. We have made clear to the United States our view on whether it was right or wrong to let Chiang Kai-shek invade the mainland, and we have said that we think the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. But the Americans are playing the hand in that part of the world; in the long run they have to take the decision, and I am inclined to think that in this matter, having represented our views, we have to back them up.

There are, however, certain lessons to be drawn from this development in Formosa, lessons which I am sure my right hon. Friend has in mind, but which I think the country as a whole ought to have in mind. Let me put them this way. The United States are playing the hand in the Far East, and, as their allies, we have to back them up. At least, that is the point of view I would take. But this question we are debating shows, I think, that the machinery for consultation has been singularly inadequate.

Our American friends have indicated that one of the reasons they object to our joining the Pacific Pact with our fellow members of the Commonwealth, Australia and New Zealand, is that it would commit them to the defence of the mainland of Asia. Now they themselves are taking a step which runs the risk of complications on the mainland of Asia, and which runs the risk of endangering the Colony of Hong Kong. I have no doubt that Mr. Foster Dulles and his colleagues, who are men of honour, would accept responsibility for any repercussions that took place in Hong Kong as a result of their decision; that they would come to our support if that Colony were threatened. But I believe this development underlines the importance of the Pacific Pact being widened to include ourselves and our French Allies, whose interests are as deeply concerned in Indo-China as ours are in Hong Kong and Malaya.

Let me take the point a little further. I believe we should back up the United States, even though we have doubts about the step they have taken, because they are playing the hand in the Far East. But there are parts of the world where we are playing the hand—in the Middle East, in Persia, for instance, and Egypt—and I think we are entitled to say to them, "We give you our support when you are playing the hand. We expect the same loyalty from you where we are playing the leading role."

Mr. Crossman

We shall not get it.

Mr. Amery

The hon. Gentleman may or may not be right. I prefer, at any rate, until the contrary has been proved, to trust the good will and good faith of men who have so far shown themselves to be our friends.

I hope that these lessons will be borne in mind, and that the attention of the Americans will be drawn to them. This problem of the cold war which we face in Europe, in the Middle East and in the Far East is one problem. We cannot simply have a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defending Europe and a vacuum in the Middle East, South-East Asia and the Pacific. There must be some network of co-ordination between the different countries interested. There must be some better machinery of joint consultation.

Let me end by saying this. It may sound harsh, but it is true: the survival of the free world depends upon a close and initimate understanding and alliance, above all between the British Commonwealth and the United States, but if it is to endure it must be an alliance between equals.

8.59 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)

The event which has given rise to this debate, namely, the new orders given by the President of the United States to the Seventh Fleet operating in Formosan waters, has obviously stirred deep feelings over here; and, I believe, not only in Britain but in other countries on this side of the Atlantic. I do not think it would have done so were it not that it is merely one symptom of a longstanding disagreement between us and some other countries on the one hand and the United States on the other about the whole situation in the Far East. Over the last two years, and, indeed, more than two years, there has been this disagreement. Through goodwill on both sides, it has been possible to prevent anything disastrous resulting from that disagreement, but there have been many nervous moments, and I believe that this is another of them and, in some ways, a rather worse one than many of the previous ones.

Despite what has been said in the last few minutes about the disagreement in the House today, I believe it is true that all but a very small minority of people in the House and in the country will welcome the fact that Her Majesty's Government have "protested"—and I hope that this is not an incorrect word to use —about what has been done by the United States in this matter.

I think that most of us will agree—I certainly do—with the reason which the Foreign Secretary gave in his short statement two days ago, namely, to put it in one sentence borrowed from his statement, that this step involves political dangers without giving any "compensating military advantages." I think that is, in a sentence, the main reason why we object to what is being done. We could also say, I think, that it is a very bad case of failure in co-operation.

It is not so many months ago that we had another debate in this House about another failure of co-operation in the Far East to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) and a number of other hon. Members have referred, namely, the question of the Yalu River bombings. On that occasion, Mr. Dean Acheson very generously and frankly admitted that it was an error. He got into a certain amount of trouble at home for having admitted it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said today, in this case it was not an error; it was perfectly deliberate.

I was extremely glad to hear the Foreign Secretary say today that, as a result of his recent talks in the last 48 hours with Mr. Dulles, he is satisfied with Mr. Dulles' good intentions with regard to consultations and co-operation in the future. As I said on a previous occasion, I think that it is necessary to understand that we have to fight for these consultations and co-operation because there is a disparity of strength between us and a natural tendency of the stronger partner to forget, until it is too late to do more than have a formal consultation, that he ought to consult his allies, and unless we keep this constantly before him, he will go on forgetting it.

We cannot go on indefinitely having debates about Anglo-American relations arising out of some failure by the Americans to remember that we exist. I think that we shall get better results if we fight for these consultations in co-operation with our European allies. In many respects they are as closely concerned as we are.

One cannot help noticing in the President's State of the Union Message that—I think I am right in saying—there was no mention of Britain. I make no complaint of this. There may have been a mention, but I do not remember it. I think that we were only mentioned in Mr. Dulles' broadcast in conjunction with France and Germany as one of three European countries on the same basis. Whether I am correct or not in thinking that there was no reference, it is quite clear that the conception that we occupy an entirely special position vis-à-vis the United States, on a different footing from other European countries, is one that is, to put it mildly, not wholly shared by our American friends.

Sir I. Fraser

The British soldier was praised in fair and generous terms by the President.

Mr. Younger

I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that if that is correct it is a minor point. It does not really invalidate the major point which I am making at the moment. The Foreign Secretary invited us to keep this matter in perspective, and he was right to do so. So far as the immediate military significance of this action is concerned, I do not suppose that he will differ from me when I say that it is quite obscure. It may be serious or it may not. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South went into the possibilities, some of them fairly grim if they were to happen, and I will not go over that ground again.

The hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) said that while we were right to have made the protest, he thought we should now back the Americans up. As a general statement, there may be something in that, but I do not know what he means by it. If he means we must share in the consequences of this decision, I believe he is going a great deal too far. For instance, if Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek gets into trouble as a result of operations resulting from this decision, is the hon. Member really saying that we should co-operate in getting him out of trouble? If so, I entirely disagree with him.

Does he suggest that, in case there are difficulties with British shipping, the Foreign Secretary was not right in saying that we should take action to protect our shipping regardless of whether it cut across the plans of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek or not? That is what backing up this decision might mean in practice if it is to mean anything. I should say that, in that sense, we should certainly not back it up.

Mr. J. Amery

Should there come a moment when our shipping is interfered with, I would certainly hope that we should have every right to defend it and take measures to protect it. I was not suggesting anything to the contrary. Whether we should have to take any supporting steps if any complications arose as the result of American policy is hard to foretell at the present time. I would return the question which the right hon. Gentleman put to me by asking him another. If serious complications occurred, does he really believe it would be possible for us to separate ourselves from the United States?

Mr. Younger

In respect of military obligations relating to Nationalist forces in Formosa, I should say "yes." We have always said so. The most serious thing that could happen would be that there would be a major clash between the Americans and a Chinese expedition coming from the mainland to attack Formosa, but that is not so much involved in this decision. The other thing would be if Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek made a major expedition to the mainland, got into trouble and required assistance. I do not think we should participate in anything of that kind. I do not believe the Americans are under any illusion that we would do so at the present time.

To return to the Foreign Secretary's recommendation that we should keep this in perspective, and passing from the immediate military question, two other things require to be kept in mind. This may have significance as a first step in a series. This will probably be denied by many responsible Americans, but one cannot help noting that some of the best and most responsible writers in the American newspapers are regarding this quite clearly as merely the first of a number of possible steps, steps which, as the Foreign Secretary said, are very familiar to us, such as a blockade of the China coast, the use of Chiang Kai-shek's forces in Korea and the bombing of Manchuria. Several commentators have been talking in this way. How are we to know that there is nothing in this if we are not consulted? We cannot be expected not to have any misgivings and to trust blindly if we are treated in this manner.

In order to obtain a true perspective, we must also keep in mind the possible political repercussions throughout Asia of action of this kind. There are very varying estimates of the implications of what is going on in America with regard to the Far East at the moment. Most recent statements have been full of ambiguity. Many of us understand that that is in part due to the fact that we are still very close to the Presidential Election. Elections cast shadows not only before but also behind, and the shadows of the American election are still fairly deep. It is not much comfort to us to know that decisions which we think may have dangerous consequences are being taken for American domestic reasons.

Perhaps the best informed of all the Washington writers on these subjects, Mr. James Reston, ended a passage in an article in the "New York Times" on Saturday by saying: It cannot yet be said there is a new American policy, but there is a new melody. That much is already clear. Before the melody swells into a policy and while the meaning of a number of ominous but ambiguous statements by leading Americans is still undeclared, that is the time when the major allies of the United States should—and they must—state their own views on these problems very firmly indeed. They should state them in public and, if possible, with the weight of unanimity behind them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) somewhat exaggerated the difference of opinion in this House, and I think we can legitimately suggest that it should go out from this House that we are behind the Foreign Secretary in his having made the representations he did, and that we are worried about the action that is being taken and the way in which it has been taken. Upon that at least we can agree.

It is correct, as some of my hon. Friends have said, that the Foreign Secretary's speech today seemed less firm than his statement of two days ago. It was a great deal better than some of the speeches of his hon. Friends. He would have been shocked if he had heard some of their speeches today, and particularly those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Heeley (Mr. P. Roberts), who appeared to take a diametrically opposite view to the Foreign Secretary about the merits of this operation and the need for any representations at all.

The Foreign Secretary expressed a good deal of sympathy with the United States' attitude in these matters, and it is right that he should do so. I was disappointed that he did not spend longer elaborating the British case because, after all, from our point of view it does not make much difference to the rightness or wrongness of a certain action, and even less to the consequences of a certain action, to know that the motives for which it was taken were more or less respectable or understandable ones. It is the results much more than the motives that are important.

I should like to follow up what I have said about the ambiguities of some of the statements the Americans are making by taking a broader view of Far Eastern policy and using some of the post-election statements of the President and Mr. Dulles as pegs upon which to hang my argument for the British case. In the Message on the State of the Union the President linked together Indo-China, Malaya, Formosa and Korea. That is the passage to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South referred in opening, and the final sentence of this paragraph was: The working out of any military solution to the Korean war will inevitably affect all these areas. In passing, I should like to point out that, if that is the President's belief, it greatly underlines our insistence that we are entitled to be consulted on any American action in any of these areas. He himself has said that one has a bearing upon the other, and I think we are agreed that that statement is a perfectly fair description of the facts. I would ask him to go a bit further and apply this reasoning not only to the military situation but also to the political situation, and I would also ask him to add China to those four areas which he mentioned.

On the Chinese problem I should like to hark back for a moment to the time when China entered the Korean war. We were all saying to the Americans at that time they could not regard Korea entirely in isolation, and many of us thought that that disastrous occurrence of the Chinese coming in at Christmas, 1950, was due in part to the rash offensive undertaken in Korea, but that offensive itself would not have led to the Chinese intervention had it not been for the attitude taken up towards China in the United Nations as well as the attitude adopted towards Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa. It was the build-up of American policy in the various areas of the Far East and in the world generally, coupled with the action in Korea which, I believe, led to that disastrous occurrence.

We have said—I said it a year ago—that if we are to bring Korean aggression to an end it can best be done by a dual policy; firstly, while the aggression continues making it perfectly clear to the Chinese that aggression will be resisted; and, secondly—this is less often stressed I think—making it clear that when the aggression stops there is a chance of a broad political settlement. I agree with what the Foreign Secretary said today that any change of attitude in the United Nations or elsewhere during the aggression is not practical politics even though some people think it ought to be attempted.

It would be wrong to imagine for that reason that nothing can be done while aggression is still going on to indicate to the aggressor that if he will only stop aggression he will have a chance to reach a settlement. If other nations had taken the attitude we have taken about the eventual recognition of realities in China, particularly if the Americans had taken it, there would be a very much greater inducement to the Chinese to bring the conflict to an end. American policy has never satisfied that condition, and what they have done now must be taken as a contrary indication. They have been acting in this sense in Washington ever since the Chinese Communists got control of China. What the President has just done is a step which moves us further away from eventual political settlement without bringing military victory any nearer.

Coming to other post-election statements of the President and Mr. Dulles, I want to probe a little into what they said. Paraphrasing very generally, they said that they regard the threat which the United States faces in China as being the same threat all over the world. I will give two instances of that. The President said: The freedom we defend in Europe and the Americas is no different from the freedom which is imperilled in Asia. Mr. Dulles said: To all those suffering under Communist slavery … let us say this: 'You can count on us.' I cannot take any exception to those statements as they stand, but our American friends must expect us to take very general statements of that kind in their context. I do not think Mr. Dulles can complain if we ask whether they link up with the broadcast he made a year ago. when he said: The United States should not stand idly by while any part of the world remains under the rule of either Communist or Fascist dictatorship. We are entitled to ask the new Administration for clarification of those extremely vague and possibly ominous statements. They may have a perfectly admirable meaning, but they may not, and only the Administration can give an answer. While they are formulating their answers —and I hope we shall get them—we must tell them what we ourselves think of this problem of world menace.

I would put it this way: We accept the existence of the threat that comes in many areas of the world. This is proved by our participation in the North Atlantic Treaty and by our action in Malaya and in Korea. We are aware that there is a common source of that danger in all these areas. Where we differ is that we do not go on from that to the folly of talking about the liberation of all people under Communist rule, least of all the Soviet people and the Chinese.

I know I shall be told by many Americans, and possibly by Mr. Dulles, that he does not mean that. Whatever answer he may give, if no major action is taken to back up those brave words then it is indeed a cruel and empty deception to say them. If, on the other hand, major action to implement them is contemplated, then it is a ghastly blunder in which we here can have no part whatever.

I give my own view that the blunder is not contemplated. I do not believe that Mr. Dulles or the President intend to make this blunder, and I earnestly ask that they should not endanger the solidarity of their allies by loose talk which can only mean something totally unacceptable to us or virtually nothing at all. Such talk was that used by General Bedell Smith when he said he wants a policy "which means more than containment."

I sympathise deeply with the desire to find a more dynamic policy. I tried to wrestle with this problem myself until a year or so ago. We seem to have reached a stalemate. We have been through all the possibilities over and over again, and the Foreign Secretary has been through them also. We have rejected them, generally because above all things they would have been ineffective. The Truman Administration rejected them, and I believe the Eisenhower Administration will reject them also.

As allies, we are ready to discuss any concrete proposals which seem more practical and less dangerous than the ones we have rejected, if there are any. I am not against the re-thinking of Far Eastern policy for which some hon. Members have asked, but do not let us have merely a re-hash of the things which have been rejected constantly by all the people who have been into the problem. Above all, when they talk to their home public, I ask them to remember that what they say is heard by their allies as well and it has recently been doing great damage. They should understand that.

The last point I want to make on statements made recently was on one admittedly made in the heat of the campaign. I am not mentioning it so much by way of criticism as to illustrate a point which I want to make about British policy. On 2nd October in a campaign speech the President used words, some of which have been taken out of their context very unfairly to him. They were the words about "Asians fighting Asians." I took the trouble to get the exact text and when read in their context, it will be seen that they bear a different meaning from that generally attributed to them. He said this: We do not want the Asian to feel that the white man of the west is his enemy. If there must be a war there let it be Asians against Asians, with our support on the side of freedom. I do not think that those words were very happy but in conjunction with the first sentence, which is not usually read, it is quite clear that they were not intended to bear the meaning often attributed to them. I would invite the President to follow through this thought of his which he has applied in the military field and I would paraphrase it this way: If there is to be not war but peace in Asia, then it can only be by co-operation between Asians and Asians with our support on the side of freedom.

It is precisely because I have always held the view, as have most of my hon. and right hon. Friends, that in the long run the Far Eastern situation depends more on Asians than it does on Westerners, that we must seek always to gain the maximum support of Asians in this matter. Very great Asian people, like the Indians and the Japanese who are now emerging as an independent force, have the greatest interest in, for instance, free access to the South-East Asia rice bowl. Mr. Dulles showed himself well aware of that. They are interested in that in the context of co-existence with China and I am sure that is the way they all think of it. The Indians certainly, and probably the Japanese too, have no interest whatever in a policy which might look like leading to a kind of "Asian Thirty Years War" fought as a religious crusade.

I believe the greatest single obstacle to Asian co-operation in the Far East that there has been recently has been United States support for Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. I think the tendency which it has had to allow the clear issue of resistance to aggression, in which Asia is interested, to become confused with the issue of counter-revolution in China, in which Asia is not interested and to which she will not give her co-operation, is a dangerous one. That is what I meant when I said at the opening of my remarks that I thought it might have very dangerous repercussions upon Asian opinion.

I hope that the Government spokesman who follows me will be willing to reinforce the majority of my remarks in order to leave our United States allies in no doubt on two or three points which I want to enumerate quite clearly. First, that we are with them to the hilt in operations under the United Nations Charter and in preparations against aggression whether it is in Europe or in Korea or elsewhere.

Second, that we are not, and cannot be, with them in operations whose tendency seems to be to spread the war without any hope of ending it: whose declared objective—I am referring to some of the statements which I have already quoted; some of them are in to-day's "Times"—seems to be quite outside the United Nations Charter and really amounts to an attempt at counterrevolution on a world scale. Third, that we over here continue to distinguish very clearly in our minds between appeasement in the sense which that once creditable word has come to bear since the time of the Munich Agreement, and in which we will have no part; and, on the other hand, our duty to work for peaceful settlement, in which we intend doggedly to persist. We hope that they, too, will make that distinction, as they have not always done in the past.

We should say to the United States, who are so conscious themselves of the effect of their home opinion upon the conduct of their international policy, that so long as these major points which I have enumerated remain common ground between us, any British Government here will certainly maintain the world-wide partnership, but that if this common ground were to be cut from beneath our feet by unilateral action on the part of our ally, no British Government could do so.

9.26 p.m.

The Minister of State (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

The hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt), in the course of a speech which those who heard it will agree was extremely thoughtful, made some comments on the debate and said that there had been a certain contrast between the atmosphere of the House today and on Tuesday. Most of us, I think, will agree with what he said. At one stage I wondered whether the debate would last until now, but some of the later speeches succeeded in injecting a certain amount of controversy. I return to the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) the compliment which he paid to my right hon. Friend by saying that I thought his speech was a great improvement on some of those made earlier from the benches behind him.

As the former Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), said at the beginning, and as the right hon. Member for Grimsby also said, the Opposition declared themselves to be in general agreement with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I quite agree with their view that the action taken by the Government has had the general approval of the country.

Certain criticisms have been made of the speech of my right hon. Friend. I think it was the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) who suggested that my right hon. Friend had changed his ground, and the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) rather indicated that he was adopting the same view and that he thought my right hon. Friend was defending the United States decision. It is quite untrue to say that that was the position taken up by my right hon. Friend; he stands by the terms of his telegram, but was seeking to explain the reasons for the United States action so that comment in this House upon that decision could be informed and temperate.

We have been asked what was meant by the sentence in my right hon. Friend's telegram, which was read by the right hon. Member for Grimsby, that this decision … would have unfortunate political repercussions without compensating military advantages."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1953; Vol. 510, c. 1674.]

Mr. Donnelly

Hear, hear.

Mr. Lloyd

Some of those objections have been clearly stated during the debate. To put it extremely shortly, I think that the main political repercussion will be that, at the best, this decision will be misunderstood, particularly in the Asian countries, and at the worst, will be distorted and will afford to those who are not friendly to the cause of freedom opportunities for making further trouble. Those are the general political repercussions, put very briefly, for which my right hon. Friend and the Government did not think there were likely to be any compensating military advantages.

We then come to consider what I think is the very interesting point which has been discussed by most speakers in the debate. That is the way in which disagreements between friends and allies should be treated. I do not think that the way to treat a disagreement or to make representations to a friend or ally in regard to a decision with which one does not agree is to unleash a cataract of abuse. There was one epithet applied to this action by the hon. Member for Coventry, East which I thought did not do him credit when he described the decision as a "disreputable decision." I do not think that is the way in which to deal with these matters between friends and allies. Again, to make the suggestion that the United States of America are intent upon waging this war by proxy, when they have had 116,000 casualties, is not a way in which to commend a point of view to friends and allies.

The impression has been put about that our views are always disregarded by the Government of the United States of America. In fact, that is completely untrue. There is constant discussion, as there was constant discussion in the case of the late Government. The difficulty about this problem is that if there is a disagreement and if one persuades one's ally to adopt one's own point of view, or if we iron out differences and produce a compromise solution, that matter is not and cannot be publicised. The only things which come out into the open are the very occasional cases where there has been unresolved disagreement, and in the last 15 months, with all the dangers, complications and pitfalls we know that there have been only two such instances. I think that on the whole that is a record of co-operation of which no one need be ashamed.

I am afraid I do not agree with the comment of the hon. Member for Aston about there being complete indifference in the United States to the opinion of people in this country. We had some slight differences of opinion during the course of the session of the United Nations Assembly which was adjourned just before Christmas. We had differences of opinion with our American friends as to how we should handle the particular matter of the Indian Resolution and the methods which should be adopted.

Mr. Wyatt

May I say that on this point—

Mr. Lloyd

May I finish my sentence? While there was that argument, that disagreement going on, our point of view was reported with scrupulous fairness by the organs of the American Press. Indeed in some instances it was supported by the American Press and they did try to put before their public our views in a perfectly fair manner, and I do not accept the suggestion that our views were treated with indifference.

Mr. Wyatt

I was not including members of Government, officials and so forth. The right hon. Gentleman was in New York where the Press have a very high standard—the "New York Times" and the "Herald-Tribune"—but, if he had travelled round the country, he would have found that what I said was true and that the generality of people in America are indifferent to our views.

Mr. Lloyd

It may be true that the generality of people in other countries are more indifferent to our views than sometimes those engaged in politics are apt to think. So far as that particular instance was concerned, I think our point of view was published reasonably fairly to a much wider section of the public than just the New York Press.

We feel that when we do have these occasional disagreements the way to deal with them is to put one's own point of view in a temperate and reasonable manner and, having put it, to refrain from recriminations, constant grumblings and irritating the other side.

During the debate many hon. Members have tried to evaluate the consequences of this decision, and for once I find myself in agreement with what I think the hon. Member for Coventry, East said —thlat he did not think that this was an important action in itself. I think that the insinuation that this means that the United States are contemplating launching Chiang Kai-shek on to the mainland is quite untrue. This action has to be looked at by itself in its proper perspective and with some degree of balance.

I was asked certain specific questions, first of all by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly). His first question was what action would be taken to protect British ships. He can be assured that Her Majesty's ships have full instructions to protect British merchant ships on their lawful occasions on the high seas. There can be no misunderstanding on that matter. The second question was whether Her Majesty's Government would withdraw our consul in Formosa. Again, I agree very much with the comment made by the hon. Member for Aston that if we are really considering a way of influencing American opinion, the effect of that announcement —that we were withdrawing a consul—would not really be likely to have such a profound influence on American opinion as to alter the action the Americans were taking.

In fact, this proposal is put forward, I assume, as a political gesture, but it has been made clear time and time again that the maintenance of a consular post has no political significance.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

What does the consul do?

Mr. Lloyd

The maintenance of Her Majesty's consulate in Formosa implies no recognition of Chiang Kai-shek and is in no way incompatible with recognition of the People's Government in Peking. The consul at Tamsui has relations only with the Provincial authorities and has no relations with the organs of the central Government of Chiang Kai-shek. His duties are to look after British interests, which are considerable.

Mr. Hughes

Has he any sort of communication at all officially with Chiang Kai-shek?

Mr. Lloyd

He communicates with the Governor of the Province in which he is situated. When, for example, a protest was made recently with regard to a particular incident, it was Her Majesty's Consul in Tamsui who made the protest to officials in that Province, and with some effect.

Mr. Crossman

I see a lot of sound argument in what the right hon. Gentleman has said. My second suggestion was that we should withdraw support from the accreditation of Chiang Kai-shek's representative in Lake Success.

Mr. Lloyd

That point was made in Question time yesterday. The point is that it is impossible legally to declare a seat vacant. That cannot be done under the rules of procedure of the United Nations and therefore that is a possibility which we need not examine further.

The hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey) asked certain questions, and I think that he really suggested that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation should function as a forum for consultation on Indo-China. He made some reference to the recent resolution in which there was a mention of Indo-China. I think that we should recognise the need for consultation between friendly interested Governments on this matter, but I do not think that N.A.T.O. is the proper forum for this purpose.

The resolution adopted by the North Atlantic Council on 17th December, which was supported by Her Majesty's Government, recognised that resistance to aggression anywhere contributed to the security of the free world. It recognised also, and paid tribute to, the efforts of France and the Associate States in Indo-China, and it unanimously agreed that the campaign against Communism in Indo-China deserved the continuing support of Member Governments of N.A.T.O. But it did not extend the scope of the Organisation as such, nor do I think that it should be extended.

I think that some regional defensive arrangement comparable with N.A.T.O. may well be one of the ways to deal with the situation in the Far East. At the moment there are obvious difficulties, but it may be the answer. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it certainly would not come into being—indeed it would not be effective—unless this country were a partner in that organisation.

Mr. Healey

I appreciate the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point, but the point I was trying to make was this. There clearly was a general discussion of the Indo-China problem at the N.A.T.O. Council. I was suggesting that pending the establishment of a regional organisation which might deal with common problems of the Atlantic allies in the Far East, would it not have been wise to discuss such a problem as has arisen over Formosa in the North Atlantic Council so that the European allies might have made joint representations to the United States within a framework in which consultation is normal?

Mr. Lloyd

It is better that the countries particularly concerned with the Indo-China problem should discuss it among themselves. That indeed is what happened. I do not think, on consideration that a useful purpose would be served by charging N.A.T.O. with responsibility for discussing that problem.

There were references to the purpose of the war in Korea, and the hon. Member for Edge Hill said that he feared that the United States were converting the war in Korea into an operation by the United States to retrieve what they had lost in China. All I can say is that we do not share that view. I do not believe for one moment that that is the purpose of the United States Government in this matter.

My hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) took a rather depressing view of the operations and of what had been achieved in Korea. He said the task there was impossible, that there could not be a victory and asked whether we could not persuade ourselves and the United States to transfer our efforts to some other place where they would be more useful. I think that that suggestion fails absolutely to do justice to what has been achieved in Korea—to the victory which has in fact already been won, The decision by the United Nations and by the United States Government to take the lead in the matter deserves full credit. That decision was one of the momentous decisions in the history of the world. If it had not been taken, I am perfectly certain that soon after that aggression there would have been aggression somewhere else.

Sir I. Fraser

I do not deny that. I only ask, What now?

Mr. Lloyd

The part of my hon. Friend's remarks to which I took exception was the suggestion that we should transfer our efforts to some other place where they could be more useful. I think that the repelling and the halting of aggression was a victory. Until we have got peace in Korea and some guarantee that that aggression will not be repeated, we have got to go on containing the aggression in Korea. I think it is a situation from which we cannot depart, although, of course, the aggression having been repelled, we want to end the business as soon as that can be done upon honourable terms.

We believe that the only remaining issue is this question of the repatriation of the prisoners of war. There are people who say that if we were able to get a settlement upon that question, the other side would find some other means of delaying an armistice. We have proceeded upon the assumption that the representatives both of the Soviet Union and of the Chinese People's Government were genuine when they said that they regarded this as the only remaining issue which had to be settled before there could be a cease-fire.

The speech of Mr. Chou-En-lai will be carefully studied, but I would say that at first sight it is without doubt extremely disappointing, because it does not seem to me to advance one step ahead of the Soviet resolution put forward in New York in the course of the recent proceedings. Although, on the face of it, the Soviet resolution was attractive—it suggested that we should have a cease-fire and refer the question of the prisoners of war to a conference—what was carefully put into the resolution was that all the conference had to do was to decide upon methods whereby all prisoners of war were to be repatriated, and that meant that the principle for which we had been fighting could not possibly have been honoured.

I want to say a word about the resolution which was put forward at the United Nations on behalf of the Government of India, because I still hope that that resolution may provide some basis for agreement. When these matters are discussed in an atmosphere of propaganda—when attitudes are taken up and great violence occurs in the language used to support those attitudes—one could wish there could be a little less of this open diplomacy and a little more quiet reflection upon what a resolution actually means before a decision is taken to turn it down.

I am certain that hon. Members have studied the terms of this resolution very carefully; but perhaps I may remind them of one or two elements in it. We worked very hard with the Indian and other delegations in trying to provide a solution which we thought the other side might accept. It was always the contention that the prisoners of war had to be released and it was thought that by setting up this neutral commission, with the provision for an umpire to have a decisive vote, we should get the prisoners of war out of the custody of the combatants, and it was felt that if we could only get them out of the hands of those who were actually engaged in hostilities and into the hands of some neutral commission, some of the difficulties which have troubled this problem would be resolved.

One of the complaints made by the People's Government of China and the North Korean authorities is that any questioning of the prisoners held by the United Nations Command that has taken place in the past has taken place whilst they have been in the custody of the United Nations and accordingly under guard by United Nations guards. We felt that if we could get those prisoners out of the hands of the combatants and into the hands of an impartial authority any decisions, requests or fears which the prisoners might put forward would not be suspect on the ground that they had taken place whilst the prisoners were guarded by combatants.

It was also felt that some reference should be made to the political conference, and that if it were found that there was a balance of prisoners of war who genuinely feared for their lives and liberty—and we were very struck by that part of the speech of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) in which he described what had come within his own experience in Germany after the war —and would fight, struggle or commit suicide rather than go back, it would be a good thing to refer their disposition to the political conference which, as hon. Members know, is to be called after the cease-fire.

If, within a fixed space of time, that political conference was not able to come to an agreed solution, it seemed to be fair that the United Nations should be given some responsibility with regard to the future of these people. But again, in an endeavour to protect the position of the Chinese authorities, there was put in at the end of that resolution the provision that any ultimate solution had to be in accordance with international law. I believe that that resolution represented a genuine and constructive effort to produce something which the other side really could have accepted and still have preserved the points of principle for which they had been fighting.

We have been asked several times for declarations about the legal aspect of this matter. Our point of view on that, which was endorsed by 54 countries, was that the Geneva Convention was drawn up not in the interests of States, not in order to enable a State to demand that a fixed number of its nationals should be handed back to it; it was drawn up in the interests of the individual prisoner of war.

When we talk about the difficulties of getting better relations with the Asian countries, I think it is not unimportant to remember that the stand which we took was supported by the Asian countries—all of them, except for the representative of the Formosan Government, the National Government of China, who abstained. As I have said, we still hope that that offer and that resolution will be examined yet again to see whether it cannot provide a basis for settlement, because our whole interest is to bring an end to this business, the position which we took up—that of repelling aggression —having been defended.

It is important that we should also say again that which my right hon. Friend said in the course of his speech. We do not for one minute accept the proposition that there must be continued hostility between East and West, between the countries of Asia and the countries of the West. In some aspects a partnership is already being built up between the industrialised countries of the West and the millions in the Far East in what are described as the under-developed countries. We believe that it is a practical proposition to have this marriage between the technical skill and experience of the West and the limitless manpower and raw materials of the East.

It is a tragedy that that marriage, which could mean so much to the people, many millions of whom have had very few of the good things of life, should be held up by the continuation of this war. I can assure the House that Her Majesty's Government will continue to do everything they can to seek to confine this conflict and to try to find an honourable way of bringing it to a conclusion.

Mr. Donald Kaberry (Leeds, North-West)

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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